Friday, March 29, 2002
Police Union Blames Parks for Rising Emergency Response Time
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The average time it takes for Los Angeles police officers to respond to emergency calls has increased more than a minute over the past five years as a result of mismanagement of the department by Chief Bernard Parks, the Los Angeles Police Protective League charged yesterday.
The response time of Los Angeles Police Department officers has gone up from 6.8 minutes in 1997 to 8.1 minutes, even though the number of emergency calls to the department have gone down more than ten percent during the same time period, the union said.
“The response times and 911 figures make painfully obvious that Chief Parks has mismanaged the LAPD at the expense of the safety of the people of Los Angles,” PPL President Mitzi Grasso said in a statement.
The league, which represents the department’s rank-and-file officers, blamed Parks for the increase in large part because he allowed the department’s ranks to be depleted while failing to make any significant advances in recruitment. The league also criticized Parks for impairing department reform and causing a breakdown in community policing, all things they contributed to the lengthening of response times.
“This increase in response time is the inevitable effect of the exodus of officers from the LAPD since Chief Parks was appointed,” Grasso said.
The release of statistics on increased response time is the latest in a string of attacks against Parks, whose bid for a second term is currently being reviewed by the Police Commission. Earlier this year the union held a no-confidence vote for Parks in which 93 percent of officers who returned ballots said they did not have confidence in the chief’s performance.
The league and Mayor James Hahn have already voiced their opposition to another term for the 37-year department veteran.
According to the league, the response time for 911 calls remained steady at 6.8 minutes from 1997 to 1999, but jumped up to 7.9 minutes in 2000 and up to 8.1 minutes last year.
Emergency calls to the department dropped from 2,002,055 in 1997 to 1,792,721 last year.
Lt. Horace Frank, a department spokesman, said the release of the statistics is the “same tune, just a different song” by the league over 911 response times.
Frank accused the league of providing misinformation by “picking and choosing what statistics look good to them.”
The league’s statistics, Frank said, are misleading because the league is including all 911 calls even though some calls made to the 911 system are not emergencies and are not responded to as quickly as emergency calls.
“Not every 911 call is an emergency call and calls to a non-emergency number may be emergency calls,” Frank said.
Frank also criticized the league for saying the number of 911 calls is going down. Calls to the 911 system reached an all-time high in 1992, but after that year the call load steadily dropped until just three years ago while the number of calls began to rise again, Frank said.
League officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company