Staff Shortage Causes Longer 911 Wait Time

Posted at 9:58 AM, Feb 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-15 10:58:56-05

The calls start coming in as soon as Metrica Spears takes her seat at the Memphis Police Department's 911 call center.

For 14 years, she has fielded frantic phone calls from Shelby County residents in need of assistance.

The Commercial Appeal ( reports that Spears is one of 119 operators who work in the center. MPD 911 communications manager Marvin Pender says many more are needed.

Pender says the average hold time when someone dials 911 in Shelby County is 110 seconds, much higher than the national average of 20 seconds. He says that's because there aren't enough people on staff to man the phone lines.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland recently announced plans to hire 30 part-time 911 dispatchers.