Denver police response times for high priority calls up 25 percent in five years, report says

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The late Kristine Kirk. Graphics, documents and more below.
Since the death of Kristine Kirk, who was allegedly murdered by her husband, Richard Kirk, while she was on the phone with a 911 operator, a great deal of attention has been focused on emergency response times in Denver.

Now, the Denver auditor's office has released a report on that very topic. The document, on view below, finds that the thirteen minutes or so it took for officers to reach the Kirk residence is typical rather than notably excessive. But data also shows that response times are up across the board in the past five years, with cops taking 25 percent longer to react to high-priority calls than they did in 2008.

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A photo from Richard Kirk's Facebook page.
In our earlier coverage, we noted that on April 14, Kristine called 911 to say Richard was behaving strangely after possibly eating a marijuana edible; he was also on medication for his back. Kristine said Richard was hallucinating, talking about the end of the world and declaring his intention to shoot her -- which he did, while she was still on the line with the operator.

The call took in the range of twelve-thirteen minutes. Moreover, a police station is only a short distance away from the Kirks' home on St. Paul Street, near the DU campus, and officers were less than a mile away at the time of the shooting. If they'd been dispatched immediately, some observers believe a tragedy might have been averted.

The operator subsequently resigned. However, a Manager of Safety's report about the incident, released last month, suggested that a flaw in the 911 system may have also contributed to Kristine's death -- one that's been addressed by assorted policy changes, including immediate notification of a dispatch supervisor when a high-priority report comes in and more leeway for officers to designate calls for immediate action.

Enter the auditor, whose report doesn't specifically address the Kirk situation, although it's widely thought to have been at least partly motivated by it. The document points out that "police response time became an issue of concern for citizens after increases were observed and reported through recent media coverage."

The findings? Between 2008 and 2013, Priority 0-2 calls -- defined as "imminent danger or a life-threatening emergency" -- rose from 11.4 minutes on average to 14.3 minutes, an increase of just over 25 percent. Likewise, Priority 3-6 calls -- "quality of life and public-needs calls" -- went from 20.5 minutes to 23.3 minutes, up approximately 8.8 percent.

Here's a graphic from the report highlighting the Priority 0-2 findings....

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Click to enlarge.
...and here's one depicting Priority 3-6 calls:

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Click to enlarge.
The report also quantifies response times in each of the Denver Police Department's six districts -- and the differences between those at either end of the scale is nearly five minutes.

Continue for more about the police response times report, including the original document and a letter from Denver Police Chief Robert White.


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19 comments
Brandon Moana
Brandon Moana

My experience with cops is that even if they make it on time there is nothing they can do till the threat is materialized. Boycott the donut shops till they refuse to serve donuts to those in uniform.

Matt Pierce
Matt Pierce

It's unacceptable. They're more worried about traffic incidents than they are with responding to things that generally deserve their attention. But I can't put all the blame on the officers either.... it's also a problem with the dispatch system

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

Its unacceptable. Im ok with funding for police and medical personnel. Long as assholes dont show up. With as many cops as I see pulling people over, why are the times so slow.

Cory Metheney
Cory Metheney

It's because of all the damn Mexicans they gotta deal with first. We should just kill em all.

Dan Miller
Dan Miller

Too busy writing speeding tickets and patrolling the 16th street mall

Jay Baerga
Jay Baerga

another words why even call em if they show up after ur bleeding or dead

Amanda McGregor
Amanda McGregor

According to the article the police don't seem to be the problem but the report and the dispatch system. Without knowing the situation completely cops can't go in guns blazing, and possibly endanger not only themselves but other civilians and such. I'm glad this story brings light to a problem, but it appears this one situation puts too much focus on the police response time and fails to focus on how well the dispatcher handled the situation. It response time back to what it was 5 years ago would be great, but the whole system needs an audit to be able to meet that need.

B Jonathan Balliet
B Jonathan Balliet

It simply takes time for them to put on full battle gear & fire up the tank

Darren Lyman
Darren Lyman

They are slow as shit. I was trapped in a car for over an hour and a half. Don't rely on pigz for anything. Especially since the investigation by the fedz started last year. They're fucked! Lolz

Steve At Work
Steve At Work

We demand service yet balk at funding it. Didn't you're mothers ever tell you the story of eating the cake too?

Monkey
Monkey

I stopped calling police for "help" a long time ago.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

So the fact that the dispatcher chatted with Kristine Kirk for eight minutes before dispatching the officer less than one mile away is OK; they met their standards for response.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@GuestWho @muhutdafuga The burdon of proof is for the assertion that they are lazy due to pot.  There are two unproven assumptions, first that the police are using pot.  Steroids and stimulants are more likely drugs of choice.  The second assertion is that even if they use pot, that it's making them lazy.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@muhutdafuga @GuestWho


Smoking cannabis really DOES make people lazy because it affects the area of the brain responsible for motivation

  • Long-term use of the drug lowers levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the striatum - the area of the brain involved in motivation

  • Previous studies have suggested marijuana causes lethary and apathy

  • Some experts describe condition caused by the drug as 'amotivational syndrome'

    Dr Michael Bloomfield, of Imperial College London, said: 'Dopamine is involved in telling the brain when something exciting is about to happen - be it sex, drugs or rock ‘n roll.

    'Our findings explain why cannabis has a tendency to make people sit around doing nothing.




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