U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Improving Police 911 and Dispatch Operations

NCJ Number
Date Published
45 pages
In response to call-processing and dispatching problems, the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department commissioned a project focusing on improvement of police 911 and dispatch operations.
Over 2 million calls for police, fire, ambulance and nonemergency services were received in 1985 by the Metropolitan Police Department's (MPD) Communications Division. On the average, one out of three callers were kept waiting indefinitely, and one out of six callers hung up before their calls were answered. Along with these difficulties, the Division experienced problems in dispatching calls for police service. Although combining 2 or more police districts on 1 radio zone is considered a bad practice because the dispatcher and as many as 100 field units must compete heavily for air time, on several shifts each week MPD radio zones were combined due to perceived manpower shortages and poor work schedule design. Employee morale was another matter requiring attention. The project was undertaken from January to July 1986 and various techniques were used to develop and analyze data, including time study, linear and integer models, and an employee morale survey. Major findings revealed (1) a lack of efficient software for calls and (2) poor work scheduling. Recommendations included obtaining software to distribute calls in a 'priority pooling' configuration, implementing fixed bracket work schedules and a new work-station coverage policy, increasing supervision, and upgrading salaries by 25 percent.