After a leak indicated last week that Washington, D.C.’s 911 dispatch center is facing an extreme staffing shortage while crime surges across the city, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice told The Federalist the department is requiring overtime and hiring new employees.
“Over the coming weeks, the agency will institute mandatory overtime and focus emphasis on base operational requirements including plug-in times, call accuracy, and chain of command, an approach rooted in ensuring that residents and other callers receive the most timely and appropriate response possible,” Chris Geldart, who oversees 911, 311, corrections, and public safety in D.C., said in a statement.
Only 50 percent of the staff were available to work two weeks ago. This led to the emergency agency’s interim director, Cleo Subido, introducing mandatory overtime.
Dave Statter first obtained an email Subido had sent to her staff, in which she said, “We are committed to following the rules and being transparent about it. Anything that gets in the way of us improving performance, treating each other with respect, providing our responders and constituents with the care they deserve, or meeting the objectives of our mission — I will handle without delay.”
(2) With the exception of @AugensteinWTOP no news media is covering DC 911's crisis where:
• 911 can't meet minimum staffing because half the work force isn't available
• Only 35% of staff vaccinated
• Part of the work force defies orders in place to better manage 911 (more) pic.twitter.com/dITlFSw4Ol
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) July 23, 2021
While the shortage of available staff is due to employees on personal leave, sick leave, and family leave, Subido also had blamed staffers for being slackers. Geldart told The Federalist that the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) plans to hire new personnel next month and focus on more hiring initiatives in the coming fall.
“Next month, OUC will onboard ten new call-takers, which will also help to lessen impact during high-absence periods, with additional recruitment efforts coming in the fall,” the deputy mayor said. “OUC remains committed to answering the call in times of crisis and we will continue to work with 911 operations staff and supervisors to ensure they are well-trained and ready to assist.”
There have already been more homicides in D.C. this year than the last, and 2020 marked a 16-year high. Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday a plan to hire 170 police officers, requesting the City Council provide $11 million. The Council voted to defund the police by $15 million last year.