KC police chief releases proposed budget for 2018, asks for 21 new dispatchers, 30 new patrol officers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When people call 911 they expect an immediate response, but according to Kansas City's police chief many callers are being put on hold and officer response times have increased because his communications unit is under staffed, and he needs more officers.

Police Chief Rick Smith blogged on Wednesday that his department submitted a budget that includes funding for 21 new dispatcher positions and 30 new patrol officers. He says with the current staffing, his department is unable to provide the kind of service taxpayers expect.

The chief blogged that he believes while it requires more tax dollars, it is a wise investment. Right now, the average 911 hold time has increased instead of getting an immediate response.

The chief said being put on hold is a major concern with people he has talked to at meet-and-greets. Right now the communications center remains on the high side of number of calls per dispatcher.

As far as more officers, for the last two years the numbers have decreased to stay within budget which increases response time---in some cases, hours for lower priority calls. The chief blogs that 30 patrol officers would be the minimum needed as they are the backbone of the department.

The chief said this budget doesn't include updating technology such as the in-car computers and cameras that are 10 or more years old.

The budget which would begin May 1, 2018 was submitted to the city manager's office where the city council will eventually vote whether to approve it.