Evidence 101

EVIDENCE 101...Wherever you go, there you are...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Respond To This

On Facebook, I threw out the question about response times of first responders. It was an interesting mix. Let me throw this out to the audience...

What is expected, reasonable? What are you willing to sacrifice? How can we improve it?

IN Wyoming, I was lucky. 10 hut 10 hurry. The Chief had our response time for Code 3 emergencies down to an average of 3-5 minutes. And that is still if we had to go clear across town. The city is widespread and vast, however, we had 4 lane thoroughfares in some places, Outer Drive, and two lane one ways from one end to the other. And that was including traffic.

The roads were in great condition most often and if not, they were repaired very quickly.

We did it. Without killing small puppies. Were there ever crashes? Rarely in an emergency and if so, it was most often the fault of a citizen. When we piled up cars, it was usually on routine patrol because of various reasons, but not code runs. You have to understand our city responded to over 700,000 calls a year with 7-12 on at a time and that was if they all showed up. Sometimes we ran short when officers were on vacation, training, or sick. When I started in the 90s, our staff minimum including the sergeant was 6. The teams were comprised of 7 officers. We had two sergeants per shift. They eventually cut back to one sergeant per team and in 2012, went back to a two sergeant team with 12 officers. When I left in 2012, our officer minimum staffing was 7, not including the sergeant. Our minimum staffing requirements could not include special response teams such as PORT, TRAFFIC, K-9 units, or the swing shift when it was operating.

I was shocked when I came out east and found in a densely populated and less isolated state, response times are a lot longer. In fact, in the small town I live in we have 5 marshals, 2 deputies, and two state troopers. I was told I would be lucky if the response was 20 minutes. They laughed. I didn't. I didn't think it was acceptable. I can't fathom why in the world it would take that long and why in the world the town thinks it is OK to live with that. As I see it, they aren't allocated their officers in order to meet a schedule that can accommodate the citizens calls. More than the shock and awe of it, was the fact the officers and deputies laugh about it. I told them there was no need to respond code to my house because the bad guy will be taken care of by then or I will drive myself to the hospital.

So it seems there are issues to response time, place, and resources.

GunDiva reported that she was spoiled in Fort Collins, Colorado,  with similar responses that Casper, Wyoming gave the public. Now that she moved outside of the big city, the response might be better or worse depending on where the units are located at the time of call out. It also helps she lives close to the law enforcement and fire head quarters for her area.

Indiana has the worst infrastructure I have seen. I want to know where all the road money goes? They aren't repaired, there are gaping pot holes that could swallow elephants, and I am certain the road condition would easily take out a patrol car. Is this a problem in your area?

Obviously if you live in the country, you may experience longer times. Can you defend yourself? Can you be resourceful?

Shoot me some discussion.


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Had a nephew quit the Sheriff's Department because he was in a solo car and backup was 30 minutes away.

gowestferalwoman said...

We support our emergency personnel out here :)

I am surrounded by gravel roads with no signs. the shortest distance I have to a paved road is only 16 miles. The longest is 51 miles. The closest hospital that isnt on a reservation is 2 1/2 to 3 hours away; the closest reservation hospital is 1 1/2 hours away. cell phones do not work out here.

That being said, we are firearm owners and know how to use them. We know all the neighbors (not many lol) within a 20 mile radius. We have gps coordinates and property legal descriptions taped next to the phone for airlift if needed. On hand we have the local forest service, local blm, county police, neighbors, hospital emergency room phone numbers - we dont use 911 because that call goes to another county and city thats over 100 miles away - they dont know our area. We take initiative to know what the weather is doing, what fire dangers there might be, who may be wandering around hunting nearby. We know basic first aid and cpr. when we leave on the ground (we are surrounded by national forest) we always have a backpack on hand with basics - water, candy bars, lighter, knife first aid kit -and to add, both vehicles have that and blankets, candles, fire extinguishers, shovels, and two tires...we leave a note, or tell someone when we go out alone, and give them an estimate of when we come back.

We know we have to rely on ourselves out here...So far we have survived, including a crown fire ;).

Angelwithatwist said...

Our response time is waaaay longer than it should be. way longer. When I would call for my mom, despite them having been here a dozen times we would without fail have at least 3 that totally missed the house.. every single time..

GunDiva said...

Feral, too bad very few people could do that anymore.

RussianBear said...

In the city where I live, the contract requires a 5:00 minute response time. Currently, the response time is about 4 minutes from when a call is put through to 911.

Of course the city I'm in is only six by six miles with large thoroughfares
laid out in a 1 mile grid.

To contrast, Detroit has a response time 42.51 minutes, with a target of 33.54 minutes.


Some anecdotal stories say that if "shots fired" is reported, the Detroit police response is in the 90 minute range.

Detroit also has vast swaths of uninhabited neighborhoods where most of the violent crime is happening.

Momma Fargo said...

Well Seasoned Fool...Highway Patrol or State Police is often longer. I think Wyoming and it's isolation may be one of many states to pose such a problem. If isolation and low population is the issue, then how do we explain the long response time in larger populations and less square mileage?

Momma Fargo said...


I am so glad to hear you are a woman of the wise, but then I read you and I know this. I have so much respect for you. Sometimes we have to be resourceful and be our only saving grace. And in other times, we pray LifeFlight is 3 minutes away. :)

Momma Fargo said...


I see this in a lot of communities including my own. Is there anything we citizens can do to change it? To improve it? Or to prepare ourselves if not?

Momma Fargo said...


I agree. We have become a weenie society and rely on outside help, when sometimes we could help ourselves as well. On the other hand, how can we help our communities get better? How can we be an asset to our first responders?

Momma Fargo said...

RussianBear, you live in a lucky one. And probably they are up to speed on what is acceptable and right for your community. Detroit...is a whole 'nother animal. Boy oh boy. That is a man made disaster. Chicago is similar but better. However, I would say I have stayed in the Chicago ghetto and the cops only come during the day and clean up later after gunfire. Plus..they look the other way. I don't know if this is scared underpaid untrained cops or corruption.

Bob G. said...

Momma Fargo:
Here up in the Summit City, response time can (and does) vary...and most of THAT depends on IF dispatch wants to play "ask me another" when you're trying to get the info to them in a concise manner (as I tend to do whenever I have to call them). Time can be critial in many scenarios.

If I get a good dispatcher, police respond rather quickly, unless it's a nuisance call...they can take up to FORTY minutes (for loud parties or music from cars - they're gone by the time police arrive)...so you "add in" something like a DISTURBANCE...or "possible 99" (drugs) and that gets the po-po rolling down here pronto.
But, you have to be selective when using such a tactic...no one like to hear anyone cry "wolf".

SO much depends on the AREA (of response) of our city, severity of the call, and how short-staffed the area is (we're below both national and city averages for # of officers that SHOULD be on the street)

Good post and comments.

Stay safe down there.

gowestferalwoman said...

ah, you make me blush ;)...

i think response times are slowing down due to false reports - also, there are more calls that deal with communication issues(domestic calls, everything from spouses arguing to my teenager wont come home crap to the neighbor wont move his G*dmn garbage can...sigh etc.) which is basically he said she said he said = kid-stuff. grow up people *grumble grumble* . What officer likes dealing with that?

I think what we are losing in our culture is the fact that "no man is an island". Even if you move away to move away from it all, you soon learn that finding out who you can trust within your community is very very important.

Case in point - one morning we received a call from a neighbor lady who works 300 miles away and comes home for one to two weekends a month in order to help support the ranch which her husband runs. She didnt get the 6 am call she usually does from him, can we go check the house and the fields? (summer, haying time)... we made the 15 mile drive and found him alive and coming off a field - the weather temp was perfect to make perfect round bales, and so he was late in calling her (we knew he heard about it later LOL). But our neighbor lady knew we are the first defense we have out here, and this time it turned out okay. I would do the same if i was in her position.

so in a city or smaller community, how many false reports could we avoided (i know there has to be a correlation between false reports and delayed response time - each time an officer is called out to a call, their job is on the line, and you couldnt pay me enough to live under that pressure)SO if someone could count on their neighbor to do a welfare check, count on a neighbor to keep an eye out on the kids in the neighborhood (why are they on the streets at 10 pm, or flipping that cat, or digging that hole etc.), check up on the senior citizen next door - its a system of trust, and somewhere in our culture the trust system broke down, so we have to rely on paid help - which I feel the Police should not BE - they are there for emergencies, not to see if grandma is eating or to negotiate a fight between relatives/neighbors/friends etc. and the list goes on that has nothing to do with emergencies but communication and trust and actually caring for someone who isnt you. sigh again.

How to fix it? It involves empathy and empathy is a decision, not an emotion. It also involves making judgement decisions on a persons character, which trust is based on, but this also has to be earned by good behavior. It can be taught in homes, churches and it can be taught in schools IMO. I think it might be called "civilization" rather then the latest mantra "you are special, more so then the other guy" triple sigh.

I may be feral, but even feral knows that there is safety in the herd" ;)

gowestferalwoman said...

Oh, and I forgot to add to my "essay" LOL thank you for asking such thought provoking questions - if we dont continue to ask such good questions, what WILL happen to our communities?

now i have to go and scrape some new fence posts (they are still standing and called trees LOL) so have a wonderful day, Fargo!

Momma Fargo said...

gowestferalwoman, Great essay! Teacher claps in bravo fashion over the enthusiastic submission! I think if the police resources are drained with frivolous calls, you are right about that being one way the response time will be slow. You are also right on when you say people cannot resolve their problems and call for any and all reasons, thus the same result. Or perhaps its a situation that maybe needs police, but the citizen could handle it later or handle it through another way...ie. it's not an emergency, but they need police assistance. What I am referring to is a cold case vandalism or burglary or neighbor problem where it is not going on at the time of the call and maybe is a few days or long hours old. That might be an area where dispatch could screen the calls a different way if their administration would allow it. I will also tell you that many chiefs and sheriffs can't ask for more resources or cops without the numbers because that is how we have now placed our law enforcement budgets. They then want all the dumb calls to pad the numbers.

Momma Fargo said...

I can just say in general terms, it didn't used to be this hard. Our country, it's land and people resources, it's foundation...are all imploding. It seems we are too slow to respond. It will be interesting to see what positive changes individual organizations do to make a difference and if the rest of them follow suit by good example.

Momma Fargo said...

Bob G,
You must remember you live in a medium sized city with big city crime. You are a unique case subject. What is your city doing with its resources to combat the problems? Are you seeing any positive attempts at proactive work? And yes, I know the "cry wolf" thing. It has been used on me when I was a cop. You have to be careful. I understand sometimes people need urgency and they are being ignored. It's a very scary situation when you have that going down. It's also very scary when the resources are being misused or abused, and then the hammer comes down. In order to change, I think it takes more than just one to make a difference. It takes a good leader. It takes a team to agree to swallow the Kool aid.

Momma Fargo said...

And if anyone wants to head over to Bob G. to see what he deals with every day...go. He is a tough cookie and a smart one. And he has thought of everything to protect himself and try to combat neighborhood problems.

Firepup said...

Fire - 6 minutes.
Sheriff, average 20
EMS, average 20+
But on EMS Fire is dispatched also and will be there quicker, with EMT's or First Responders.

And no, guns scare me. I would never have one. (Two, three, or more, that's more like it)

Mad Jack said...

The last time I called the police the response time was 45 minutes. Long enough for us to shrug and decide that they weren't going to show, which wasn't a big deal to any of us at that time and with the problem we had - a drunk who wanted to fight and who ended up leaving.

The PD eventually called back and confessed that they couldn't find the house. We gave them directions and they eventually showed up, then the young, buffed cop who was first on the scene refused to enter the back yard because it was dark back there.

So they couldn't find the house despite having a map and a GPS unit, and they were afraid of the dark despite being young and buffed and carrying a pistol and a big five cell flashlight.

Eventually an older cop showed up and brought sanity with him. The younger cops were called to a possible parking violation and the evening came to a peaceful halt.

In spite of that performance I am served by a good police department, and by now the young, buffed up guy has either quit or gotten some experience.

My only thought is that if I really did need the police, like if the situation with our neighbors to the North suddenly heated up and there was lead in the air, well then. I know that I am well and truly on my own, but I already knew that. Have known it for years, and we're still able to care for ourselves.