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The Bronx Is Waiting: Police Dispatch Times Highest in the City

44th Precinct
The 44th Precinct in The Bronx had the second highest dispatch times in the city.
Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Police took longer to assign officers to crimes reported in Bronx neighborhoods than anywhere else in New York City in 2018, according to the city Independent Budget Office’s analysis of precinct dispatch times.

The average dispatch time across the city for roughly 450,000 possible crime-in-progress incidents in 2018 was 3 minutes, 48 seconds. That’s up from a citywide average of 3 minutes in 2014, according to IBO’s report.

But in some parts of The Bronx — Wakefield and Highbridge — it took about 8 minutes on average to assign a cop to a call.

That’s more than double the citywide figure and over five times the shortest dispatch lag, which was claimed by the 100th Precinct in the Rockaways, according to the report.

Overall, 10 of the 12 precincts in The Bronx recorded dispatch times higher than the city average. The average dispatch time in the borough last year exceeded the citywide number by close to two minutes — meaning the gap tripled since 2014, according to the IBO.

The Independent Budget Office’s report notes the city does not publish data precinct-by-precinct reporting how long it takes cops to respond to a 911 call.

Analysts were left to work with data showing how long it takes for a police dispatcher to “find and assign officers to a possible crime in progress.”

Residents in the neighborhoods with some of the longest police dispatch times, said they were not surprised by IBO’s findings.

“You have to be dying in order for them to come over here,” said Grace Coleman, who has lived in Highbridge, home to the 44th Precinct, for decades. “You’ve gotta be sick. If you’ve got an emergency and you don’t hail ‘em, like a cab, they don’t stop.”

Police took an average of 7 minutes and 42 seconds to dispatch officers to crime-in-progress calls in the 44th Precinct last year, said the report.

“A minute can mean the difference between life and death,” said Maria Ovando, a Highbridge resident who works as an intensive care unit technician. “Even 30 seconds can make a big difference.”

‘We Need Attention’

The 47th Precinct, which covers Wakefield, in the far northeast corner of the borough, logged the worst average dispatch time, at 8 minutes, 2 seconds.

“That’s not good,” said Rema Blair, a Wakefield resident. “We need attention, quicker help. They [police] take too long to come, just like the bus sometimes.”

“Wakefield?” asked a surprised Ovando. “That’s even worse to hear — I’m trying to move out there.”

The Bronx had by far the highest average dispatch time of any borough: 5 minutes, 22 seconds. It was followed by Brooklyn at 3 minutes, 19 seconds; Manhattan at 3 minutes, 11 seconds; Queens at 2 minutes, 40 seconds; and Staten Island at 2 minutes, 29 seconds, based on the THE CITY’s crunching of the numbers provided by the IBO.

In a statement, an NYPD spokesperson emphasized that overall response time by police officers is on the decline.

In the latest Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report, from February, the NYPD said that its “end-to-end average response time” to all crimes in progress dropped to 10 minutes, 8 seconds in 2018 from 10 minutes, 35 seconds in 2016.

“The NYPD response to crimes in progress and critical crimes in progress has gone down year-over-year since 2014,” said the spokesperson, Sgt. Jessica McRorie. “Reducing response times to 911 calls is a priority of the NYPD so officers can provide assistance, initiate an investigation or render aid.”

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