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Help on hold: Jacksonville 911 wait times increase over past year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When every second counts, you rely on 911 to be there. But an Action News Jax investigation revealed the wait for help is growing longer.

That’s what Brandy Durham discovered when she called police after a man attempted breaking into her Southside apartment around 4 a.m.

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“I heard a big ‘boom’! The walls shook,” she said. “A million things went through my mind. I started thinking is my back gate locked? Are the windows locked?”

Durham said she immediately called 911 but waited about ten minutes and no one showed up. She told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant that she called again, and an officer eventually came after about 15 minutes. The man trying to get in had already left, Durham explained.

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“At 4 in the morning? I expect little bit more urgency from 911 with someone in the middle of the night trying to break into a home with a single mother and child,” she said.

An Action News Jax Investigation last year revealed the average time it takes for a dispatcher to answer the phone in April 2022 was nearly 20 seconds. In the past year the ring time hasn’t gotten better, but actually got worse. The average ring time in April 2023 was nearly 22 seconds, which is more than double the state standard of 10 seconds.

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The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said 516 callers hung up after waiting too long to get through. Action News Jax also requested the total response times for every dispatched call, but we were told the information is not available in an existing document.

We reached out to JSO to see what’s being done to cut down on delays. They provided us with the following statement:

Currently, the agency is hosting a Police Emergency Communications Officer (9-1-1 Dispatcher / Call Taker) virtual career event on May 16th. The agency is also offering a hiring bonus between $5,000 – 10,000. Additionally, there have been employees administratively re-assigned to assist the Communications Center following an injury or lengthy restriction to “Light Duty;” off-duty personnel (Police and Community Service Officers) have been given the opportunity to work in the Communications Center on their regular day off. Both options contribute to the staffing of the Communications Center.

—  Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

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