APD makes progress in recruiting 911 dispatchers, call-takers

AUSTIN (KXAN) –  The Austin Police Department is making progress in hiring enough staff for its Emergency Communication (ECOMMS) center, according to a memo. 

Staffing shortages in the department have led to slower-than-normal pick-ups for emergencies in the last couple of years. APD said it has been “hyper-focused” in addressing the large number of vacancies, which has led to the implementation of some effective programs, per the memo.

There are 75 dispatchers and 104 call-taker positions available in the department. From October 2022, APD has been successful in filling 91% of the dispatcher roles and 69% of the call takers, per a city memo. 

Further, APD said it has hired new leadership, expanded its recruiting team, brought on new IT support members to bolster the division’s technology infrastructure and recently launched a comprehensive citywide and national recruiting campaign to fill the remaining vacant roles. 

“While a great deal of progress has been made, we will continue to explore new and innovative ways to develop and invest in our ECOMMS team going forward,” the memo read. 

APD told KXAN in July that the average hold time between June 25 and July 1 was 2 minutes and 53 seconds. During that same time frame, APD told KXAN call-takers answered 69.18% of calls in 15 seconds or less.

APD told KXAN in 2022 that operators were answering 99% of calls within 10 seconds.

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