Fact checking statement about APD 911 being 'nearly 100%' staffed by next week

911 call center staffing shortages continue

AUSTIN (KXAN) — During the City of Austin’s update on the first of this month on winter preparedness, Asst. Interim City Manager Bruce Mills said “we’ll be close to 100% staffed in the next two-to-three weeks at 911.”

Staffing issues have plagued the emergency communications center for nearly four years now, with KXAN previously reporting 100 people left Austin 911 between 2019 and 2021.

This has resulted in slower police response times as well as callers being put on hold when calling 911.

After hearing Mills’ comment, we asked the Austin Police Department about current staffing levels. The department provided the following numbers.

  • Call-takers: 21 vacancies out of 104 total positions (20% vacancy rate)
  • Dispatchers: 5 vacancies out of 75 positions (7% vacancy rate)

By comparison, in July, there were 47 call-taker vacancies – a roughly 50% vacancy rate.

911 operators answer incoming 911 calls directly, versus dispatchers who communicate directly with police officers.

From Nov. 16 – Nov. 30, operators answered 93.28% of calls within 15 seconds. Once again comparing that to July – when 69.18% of calls were answered within 15 seconds.

“APD’s recruiting and advertising campaign has significantly boosted our efforts in attracting more applicants. This has not only increased staffing levels but also resulted in improved morale around the center,” the department said in a statement. “The additional staff has allowed call takers to have more time in between calls, effectively reducing stress levels. As a result, emergency calls are now being answered at a faster rate, leading to an overall improvement in public safety. This enhanced service level is greatly benefiting our citizens. “

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