How Fast Can the Cops Get to You?

How many calls are your cops responding to each year? And how fast do they usually get there?

Inside the Port Orchard Police Department’s Annual Report for 2006 are some very interesting law enforcement statistics.

The stats include each county agency — Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Port Orchard, Bremerton and the county sheriff’s office — but not the tribal departments.

Let’s start with calls for service and average response time, both of which you can view by clicking the links.

As you can see from calls for service, the size of the agency — the sheriff’s office being the biggest — clearly dictates the amount of calls they get. With response time, though, the explanation is a little trickier.

Photo of the badge courtesy of the Port Orchard Police web site.

The sheriff’s office had about 100,000 calls for its 120 or so officers in 2006, according to the stats. By contrast, the approximately 60-personnel Bremerton Police Department had about 55,000 calls in the same year, and the other three cities, which have much smaller staffs, top out with Bainbridge at an average of about 16,000 calls.

Response time, a topic that I’ve talked with many of the area’s law enforcement officials about, also has to do with size. In fact, all the cities average somewhere between two minutes, 30 seconds and six minutes, 24 seconds. But the county’s times are much higher, between six minutes, 59 seconds and 10 minutes and 49 seconds.

Why do they take longer?

From what I’ve been told, it’s simply a bigger area to cover, windier roads to navigate, and less people with which to get there.

A good example: deputies have to respond to a “physical” domestic dispute in, say, Hansville. One of two deputies working the north end of the county are to respond, but one has been patrolling the unincorporated area around Poulsbo, the other taking an inmate-to-be “south” to the county lock-up in Port Orchard.

Bottom line: they’re going to get there as fast as they can, but that’s one heck of a distance to cover.

A special thanks must go out to Chris Hart, our webmaster, for posting the graphs.

8 thoughts on “How Fast Can the Cops Get to You?

  1. I have always been pleased with response time of the Sheriff. Maybe I have been lucky and they were in the area when I called them. The Port Orchard police were really fast the one time I had an encounter with them. a friend lost his keys and was going to climb in his window. He did not even have it opened 2 inches and we were surrounded. Maybe I should move to that neighborhood. I believe it was a passer by that saw him and called. I work in Bremerton and the police that I frequently have contact with are always quick to respond. I sometimes think that is the case because of how fast they drive in Bremerton. I have been passed by patrol cars on 6th street that had to have been going 80mph. Overall I think our police are very good in comparison to police in LA you could go to the mall come back and wait another hour and maybe then they would show up. I am not kidding they are really slow down there.

  2. I had to call Poulsbo Police the other day when I was the first to open a store that I work at and thought that there was a burglary happening. They were there in 2 minutes max. It turned out to be a false alarm but I sure was impressed at how quick they got there. When it comes to the Sheriffs, I am concerned with the ridiculous time it takes to arrest and process DUI offenders. It can be as long as 3 hours if the offender has to go to jail. Other criminal arrests take them half the time. I don’t know what the answer is to make that process quicker but where I live in the very north end of the county I wish that the sheriff didn’t have to go so far and didn’t have mountains of paperwork to do for those crimes. I’d like to see them back on the road much quicker. The Sun is reporting 27 DUIs over the weekend so that is somewhere between 54 and 81 hours that law enforcement spent processing those people. I wish they had the time to get more of them off the road and be able to respond quicker to other calls as well.

  3. Well some parts of a DUI arrest are virtually impossible to speed up. Time spent waiting for a tow truck to arrive and impound the driver’s car, and distance to transport the arrestee to jail or the nearest breath test machine are out of the officers control. Other issues like a mandatory waiting period where a DUI suspect has to be observed prior to the breath test can’t be reduced either. The actual meat and potatoes of writing the report itself doesn’t take too much longer then a report for say assault or burglary. Other factors like how cooperative they are, if the individual needs medical treatment, or time to speak to an attorney come into the equation as well. And just like any other task some officers can write reports faster or slower then others. But it would be nice to find a way to get more street time looking for drunk driver’s and less time piling up paperwork in the office.

    PS.-I’ve got your gloves.

  4. Another facet to this issue is how much time a law enforcement officer spends on calls that involve people who can’t solve disputes on their own or those where people tie up resources demanding that the cops should do something about their civil property line dispute.

    Most law enforcement calls-for-service, maybe 90% or higher are non-emergency (meaning no blue lights and sirens). Included in these are your vanilla burglary alarms (99% which are false and/or user error), “suspicious” persons, parking complaints, 9-1-1 hang-up calls, traffic hazards, reckless driving complaints, vehicle collisions, etc.

    Also included in these run-of-the-mill calls are not-in-progress crimes like burglaries, car prowls, assaults, thefts and frauds. Once in awhile, one of these crimes will be happening while the 9-1-1 caller is reporting it so they may receive a higher priority response which means maybe lights and sirens depending on several factors including how close the officers are, time of day, traffic conditions and so on.

    If you are calling to report a felony in progress where your safety or the safety of others is at stake such as a robbery, assault with a weapon or anything involving the use of a gun, etc., you are going to get all of the resources the cops have to offer and you’re going to get it as quickly as possible.

    For those of you that live in unincorporated Kitsap County, a typical patrol shift consists of ten patrol deputies divided up with two working from Hansville to Poulsbo, four working from Poulsbo to Navy Yard City and four working from Navy Yard City to the Pierce County line. Depending on how many people are on vacation, out sick or in training, there may be more or there may even be less.

    In addition to the patrol deputies, there are often some traffic deputies on duty who primarily respond to vehicle collisions and other traffic related calls. Sometimes there are K-9 deputies on duty and typically one or two sergeants working as well.

    Currently, the sheriff’s office is at full staffing in the patrol division. Also know that they are currently working a shift schedule that has no overlapping coverage between the day shift and swing shift as well as between the graveyard shift and day shift. When day shift ends, swing shift begins so if you call 9-1-1 to report a non-priority incident sometimes as much as 30 minutes before the end of dayshift, your response may have to wait until after swing shift deputies begin their watch. The usual reason for this is that the day shift deputies, armed with the intent of getting home on time are trying to wrap up their calls and reports during the waning minutes of their shift.

    A growing population has, to no one’s surprise, led to more calls-for-service. In turn, this has meant more low priority calls handled over the phone and innovations like the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizen Report Form.

    A few years ago, the sheriff’s office developed the Citizen Report Form for citizens to document and report crimes that have no suspect information. If you have been the victim of a theft, car prowl, unattended hit-and-run or any other misdemeanor offense for which there is no evidence or suspect information, you may request this report form. It is mailed to you with an enclosed return envelope and a report form along with an event number. Your insurance company will need the event number and you simply need to fill out the form, put a stamp on the enclosed envelope and mail it back.

    The purpose behind the form is that you can still report your incident while not taking a deputy off the road for the 30-60 minutes it usually requires to respond to your house, take your report and return to the office to type it up.

    Also, understand that your local law enforcement agencies deal only in criminal statutes and civil traffic laws. If you and your neighbor can’t decide where your property line is, neither can the cops. This isn’t a criminal matter. If you sell someone a car, don’t collect the full payment and you never hear from the buyer again, this isn’t an auto theft. You might have to sue them in civil court. If you want your roommate out of your apartment, the police can’t kick them out. You need to evict them. If you make a purchase at a local merchant then decide to return the item and the merchant won’t take it back, don’t expect the cops to be able to force them to. If you….well, I hope you get the point. It seems that folks are quick to resort to the 9-1-1 system when they can’t solve their problem no matter what the problem is. That’s just the way it is these days but what it’s doing is tying up your cops on problems that are better handled via small claims court or a discussion with the store manager.

    In today’s fast paced call-to-call brand of law enforcement, we need our cops free to handle the next possible emergency. Just like no one is surprised these days by doctors who no longer make house calls, don’t be disappointed if your local law enforcement officer takes your report over the phone or offers to send you a report form so they can remain free to put more effort into tracking down suspects, patrolling problem areas and responding to high priority emergencies.

  5. I did not have any idea we are that short handed. I also never really thought any one would really call an emergency # for something that is not a real emergency. Except I have been told that to file a report you must call 911 to speak to a deputy. even if the crime was not in progress. The response times I have seen have always been really good.

  6. Thanks Mr. Schaefer for the info. Is there a place on line to do a citizens report or would a person call the non emergency numbers to get one?

  7. During regular business hours if you need to make a non-emergency report where there is no suspect information or any leads that law enforcement can follow-up on, you may call 337-7101 to speak with a member of the sheriff’s office support services staff.

    If it is after business hours, you may call 9-1-1 to request a report form from a deputy. The citizen report form is currently not available online.

  8. Jeff, I have even been in the office at the front desk (non emergency)and was told I had to call 911. Thanks for the info on the form this is the first I have heard of this. Great time saver for all

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