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Last week Lisa Halverstadt shared a story about a North Park resident who was forced to grapple with a difficult situation: Get in the middle of a violent domestic altercation between two strangers, possibly putting himself and his family in danger, or keep watching, hoping police would soon respond to his 911 call.
He chose to wait.
Police officers arrived about 48 minutes after the first 911 call about the dispute. By the time they arrived, the woman was gone. The resident told Halverstadt he was shook by the whole experience: “It forces me as a citizen to really question my ability to rely on the police to come to my aid.”
He’s not alone.
We Got Police Response Data. Here’s What We Found
In a new analysis, Halverstadt found that average response times to robbery calls more than doubled in five of the city’s nine police districts from 2018 to 2022 – and in three other districts, response times were up more than 60 percent.
Halverstadt also writes that, “Response times to active domestic violence calls, assaults and indecent exposure incidents rose an average of more than 78 percent during the same period. Responses to people experiencing a mental health crisis increased too. Callers reporting people in crisis in 2022 waited for officers on average more than double the amount of time they did in 2018 in all but three police districts.”
What does that mean? It’s taking police officers longer to respond to crimes like robberies, active domestic violence incidents, assaults and indecent exposure incidents. Halverstadt found that while those calls were up, average response times to calls classified as life-threatening emergencies were within the department’s target to arrive before seven minutes.
Why is this happening? Department leaders have acknowledged that their officers are struggling. That’s because they say they have a record-low number of officers available to respond to calls. The city’s police chief wrote in an August 2022 memo obtained by Halverstadt that the department had “the lowest available sworn staffing in over 15 years.”
There are other issues police say contribute to the problem.
Read Halverstadt’s story about police response times here.
For busy chismosos: If you’d rather hear Halverstadt discuss what she learned while reporting this story, you can listen to this podcast episode here. BTW you can subscribe to our podcast here.
This reminds me: I’ve spent the last couple of months listening to community members who are frustrated by the police’s ability to respond to their 911 calls. If you have a story, I’d like to hear it. You can reach me at email@example.com
Inside Voice: Unboxing Our Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools
Our fifth edition of the Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools is here.
In partnership with UC San Diego Extension’s Center for Research and Evaluation, we’ve compiled crucial information and data that parents need to help them navigate one of the most complex systems out there: schools.
The guide allows parents to understand how well their child’s school performs compared to others in the county and provides the steps and tools necessary to do something about it if they are not happy with their current school.
The stories and data in the guide are available on our website, and you can find a physical copy at your local library (click here) or find a copy with one of our community partners. Find a location near you.
Chisme to Start Your Week
- The San Diego City Council later next month will consider making burying trash more expensive. MacKenzie Elmer reports in a new story that if the City Council approves the mayor’s proposed increase, the price to toss a ton of trash in the city’s Miramar landfill (known as tipping fees) could rise 71 percent by 2025. So, what does that mean for you? Read the story here.
- Early last week, education reporter Jakob McWhinney published a story about how a teacher who inappropriately touched a student ended up back in the classroom. The teacher was fired, and his firing was upheld by a court, but his teaching credentials remained valid. Read that story here. Bonus: We’ve been writing about abuse at schools as part of an ongoing series. Listen to this special VOSD Podcast that breaks down how abusive educators manage to stay in the classroom in the first place.
- Fellow managing editor Andrew Keatts got wonky this week on the VOSD Podcast to discuss what’s up with a new lawsuit against the city and how San Diego’s climate goals are never met. Listen to the podcast here. This follows a story by Elmer about an environmental group that is suing San Diego for failing to get enough commuters out of their cars and into public transit in Mira Mesa’s community plan. Read Elmer’s story here.