Denver police response times for high priority calls up 25 percent in five years, report says
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.
The late Kristine Kirk. Graphics, documents and more below.
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.
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.
A photo from Richard Kirk's Facebook page.
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....
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.
Click to enlarge.
Continue for more about the police response times report, including the original document and a letter from Denver Police Chief Robert White.