Response Times: If You Don’t Like The Numbers, Change the Definition

Bridge Magazine investigation finds emergency response times haven’t changed much.

As part of WDET’s new series – Detroit Bankruptcy: One Year Later – Sandra Svoboda spoke with Bridge Magazine’s Mike Wilkinson about emergency response times in Detroit. Bridge is one of WDET’s partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative that is taking a look at the city as we approach the one-year anniversary of emergence from Chapter 9. Wilkinson’s story in Bridge looks at what city officials have been telling us about police response times.

From Bridge:

In the months before Orr filed for bankruptcy, weekly police records show emergency response times never hit 58 minutes, though on occasion they went over 50 minutes. For the seven months in 2013 leading up to the bankruptcy filing, the average was about 41 minutes, according to the memos. The previous year, 2012, police responded to urgent calls in about 35 minutes, the internal records show.

Police records also show that the reported steep decline in response times, which began in August, 2013, happened only after the department dropped a number of call categories ‒ such as “bank alarm,” “hold up alarm” and “homicide report” from inclusion as a “priority one” call (Two other homicide report categories – “homicide in progress” and “homicide just happened,” remained top priority calls).