Progress on 911, but work remains


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When I speak of my goal of having city government become brilliant at the basics, I often offer examples -- items like picking up the trash, filling potholes, and answering your 911 calls. Let’s talk about that last item today.

In short: We’re making progress, but we still have room to improve.

Last July, it took us an unacceptable 98.5 seconds, on average, to answer your 911 calls. By this July, that number fell to 39.9 seconds. 

The problem is this: The national standard is 20 seconds or less. We’re still far away from that goal.

So I’ve asked our team to continue working on short and long-term solutions to bring down our answer time. Here’s a summary of what we’re doing:

  • We’re paying Memphis Fire dispatchers overtime to assist, hiring Shelby County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers part-time, and hiring former dispatchers interested in re-employment. We should see the impact of that by the end of the month.
  • We’re streamlining our application, background and testing processes.
  • We’re also spending time and effort on retaining our valuable, seasoned staff members. We’re working to reduce mandatory overtime requirements and institute a bonus incentive plan for meeting goals based on performance.
  • In the long-term, we’re looking to dramatically increase our dispatch seating capacity. And we're also looking at the feasibility of consolidating and/or cross-training fire and police dispatch teams.

Again, we’re spending a considerable amount of staff time and energy on this because it truly is one of the basic, core functions of government. That’s what you asked us to do, after all.

If you want to learn more, our team’s presentation to the City Council is on our ‘Useful Documents’ page.

Hitting the pavement: Our crews are scheduled to finish paving streets in the Lamar-Holmes industrial park next week, and then they’re set to move to the Edge District. In early October, look for paving progress in the Edge, especially along Monroe.

Remember, we’re spending $16.5 million on paving streets this fiscal year, 10 percent more than last year. It’s all part of our plan to improve core services, so that all the good going on in Memphis can multiply.

Here’s a real-life example of why we do this: An investor who plans a condo tower on the riverfront told The Commercial Appeal this week she’s seeing changes in the city, and those changes are aiding her desire to invest here. (Thanks, Ms. Fan!)

Do you have what it takes to serve?: You know that we’re trying to build back our police force, so it never hurts to send this reminder: If you or someone you know has what it takes to join the Best in Blue, visit We’re accepting applications for next spring’s class through November 11.

A class of 39 police recruits and 14 PSTs started this week.

Henson has a home: I’m sure many of you heard of the gentleman who passed away Tuesday morning in an accident while he was walking his dog. That dog, Henson, was taken to Memphis Animal Services.

I’m so happy to report that on Wednesday, thanks to the hard work of MPD and MAS, Henson found a home. The gentleman’s niece, Angela, is taking Henson to her home in Mississippi.


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