Chief: Police response time needs improvement

The IMPD is two months old and the response times for January and February are in.
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David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The performance of the new Metropolitan Police Department so far this year is coming under scrutiny.

Reports for the first two months are in and Chief Michael Spears says the numbers are "not exactly where we want them to be but we will analyze it and make adjustments."

In January the new Metro Police Department's average response time was 7:58. A year ago it took sheriff's nearly a minute longer to respond to calls, so that's an improvement. But the Indianapolis Police Department comparison tells a different story.

In January 2006 the average IPD response time was 5:43, more than two minutes faster than now on average. In February 2007, the new Metro department's response time was an average 8:32.

A year ago it took sheriffs 14 seconds longer to respond to a run, so it's faster now. But in February 2006 the average IPD response time was 5:52 - more than two and a half minutes faster than the current statistics.

"Obviously our goal is to continue to bring response time in both of those areas down," said Chief Spears.

The averages may be deceiving because police are now using a new system for ranking runs. Response times will be longer for calls about, for example, a vandalized car or stolen lawn furniture. That gives police more time to deal with more serious calls.

"When we average those together we find they are very similar to where they were before the merger depending on what month you look, even a little better," said Chief Spears. He says heavy snows may have delayed response times too.

Ben Hunter, a City Council candidate who also serves as a sergeant on the force, told Eyewitness News last week people "in my community have complained about response time." He says some beats have too few police and he questions the merger's goal.

"One of the things that will be helpful," Chief Spears said, "will be to add more officers to the field." Up to 120 new officers recruited by fall plus 25 reassigned to the field next week and 52 already in the academy.

The Chief says even with retirements there will be more officer on the streets. And he'll have captains in dispatch monitoring response times looking for patterns.