KCBD Investigates: LPD raises dispatcher minimum staffing following 30,000 missed calls last year

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 6:44 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The topic of missed 911 calls has generated a lot of discussion including from Lubbock’s city council members. As we reported earlier this month 30,017 calls were abandoned. That’s the classification from the Lubbock emergency communications district for when a call isn’t picked up by a dispatcher. Of those 30,017 more than 26,448 times the caller was eventually reached.

There were 19,133 abandoned calls in 2021. That number climbed to 30,017 in 2022.

In both years, about 89% of callers were eventually reached. The missed calls were something that Lubbock Police Chief Floyd Mitchell attributes to staffing issues. Since our initial report, the minimum number of staff has continued to change.

On May 2nd, Chief Mitchell cut the minimum call-taker staffing from nine to seven dispatchers for each shift.

On May 16th, Maggie Vanhoose a dispatcher filed a grievance expressing her concerns for the public and officer safety following the staff cuts. Her attorney told us on Thursday the grievance is still under review.

On May 17th, according to her attorney, Vanhoose received a written reprimand from Chief Mitchell for taking her concerns to the Lubbock Professional Police Association.

On June 27th, Chief Mitchell approved adding one more dispatcher to each shift bringing the minimum staffing from seven to eight.

The next day, June 28th KCBD visited with Chief Mitchell at police headquarters for nearly half an hour to discuss the decision to reduce the minimum staffing from nine to seven.

“I am responsible for managing the entire police department and the dispatch unit,” Chief Mitchell said. “When we look at how the dispatch unit is run, cutting it from nine to seven based on the deployment makes no difference in regard to how the system would work.”

KCBD has now learned that just last week the dispatch staffing was increased from eight to ten call-takers.

KCBD reached out to Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson regarding the changes.

In a statement, he stated that the city will be discussing current and future improvements regarding the dispatch center during budget presentations next week.