Emergency 911 calls held longer than the APD’s standards

Atlanta’s south side was crackling.

On McDaniel Street, a fight broke out between two groups of teenage girls.

Off Cleveland Avenue, a mother couldn’t find her 6-year-old after he wandered away from a bus stop.

And at the same moment the afternoon of May 5, at Phoenix Park near Turner Field, Jackie Gordon watched a middle-aged man in a yellow jumpsuit chasing children on the playground while exposing himself.

Gordon grabbed her cell phone and dialed 911. The police, she was told, were on their way.

They weren’t.

Instead, the 911 operator sent an electronic message to a dispatcher for the Atlanta Police Department, who held the call – for 56 minutes and five seconds – before sending an officer to Phoenix Park. The dispatcher had no choice: The police department had no one available to respond.

With too much crime and too few officers on the streets, Atlanta police dispatchers routinely hold such emergency calls longer than the department’s standards require an officer to reach the scene, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows.

In 18 percent of incidents from January through July, according to the newspaper’s analysis of communications records, police dispatchers were unable to assign officers to calls relayed by the city’s 911 until after the acceptable total response time had elapsed.

For the rest of the story, read this Sunday’s AJC.

And here are more must-reads coming in your Sunday newspaper:

-- Do you really know Atlanta mayor candidates Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed? Delve into their political careers in our companion profiles.

-- John Kessler on Atlanta’s evolving dining scene: high-end meltdown or culinary correction? Find out in Kessler’s Food & More column.

-- A rural Georgia town rallies around one of their own, a suddenly high-profile survivor of the recent tragedy at Fort Hood.

-- Sure it’s early, but we can’t resist: we’ll share five Southern spots to see amazing Xmas lights.

-- As a small-town Georgia football coach fights his fatal illness, his wife quietly keeps their family together. Her story in Sunday’s AJC.

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