Action News Jax Investigates: Delay in JSO dispatch answering 911 calls

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is asking questions about delays in dispatch answering 911 calls after Action News Jax reporter Bridgette Matter could not get ahold of dispatch.

Matter called 911 after a man was acting erratically and approached her car in downtown Jacksonville.

Matter made several attempts to call 911 using two different phones but never heard anyone pick up and answer.

Matter called a coworker, Katie Voitik, to see if she could get through.

“When I called 911 it took 49 seconds for the operator to answer, and when she answered she told me they were behind on calls.”

An Action News Jax investigation found that at the beginning of 2019, the average ring time was 6.8 seconds. Today the sheriff’s office said that ring time is up slightly to 10.18 seconds.

The calls Matter made lasted an average of 55 seconds before hanging up.

NENA, the 911 association, puts national standards to answer a 911 call at 15 to 20 seconds.

Action News Jax emailed the sheriff’s office asking why this happened, and about their ring times and dispatch staffing.

Statement from JSO

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has required minimum staffing for dispatchers, which is met every day. All calls made to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are answered.

The State of Florida E911 Plan (Florida Administrative Code Chapter 60FF-6) states that all primary PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Point) shall be staffed with an adequate number of answering positions to ensure that a minimum of 90 percent of voice calls shall be answered within 10 seconds of call arrival at the PSAP and 20 seconds for Teletypewriter (TTY) calls. All secondary PSAPs shall also meet this standard.

The average ring time in January 2021 was 10.18 seconds.

We have looked into your calls and both of your calls were answered; however, you had hung up before the dispatcher was able to speak with you.

2 calls located for phone number:

  • 00:22:48 – 1st call; The caller had already hung up when the call was answered.
  • 00:24:42 – 2nd call; The caller had already hung up when answered.
  • 00:26:40 – 3rd call; Called in by Ms. Votech. An officer was dispatched at 00:31:12. The officer arrived at 00:42:32.

End of Statement

A video Matter recorded shows a 911 call placed and ringing for 49 seconds before hanging up.

Each time the call hung up, she never spoke with a person in dispatch.

Eventually, an officer arrived about 10 minutes after Matter’s coworker got through.

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