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KCPD's new lifeline: Automatic callbacks for 911 hang-ups help response times, dispatch burden

KCPD Call Centers
Posted at 6:54 AM, Apr 18, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KCPD 911 dispatch implemented a new feature to try and help problems that are slowing down their ability to take calls.

The system will automatically call back anyone that makes a call to 911 and hangs up.

Dispatch is required to call back all abandoned calls. They receive more than one million calls a year and last year, more than 116,000 of those were hang up calls. This was a problem due to staffing issues.

Steve Hoskins with KCPD dispatch told me they have 28 out of around 90 positions open, leading to a lot of work for call takers and longer wait times for callers.

He hopes this automatic feature will really make a difference.

“What we are hoping is that those mistakes, the ones where people accidentally call 911 will take care of those automatically and take that workload off of us and hopefully allow us to answer 911 a little faster and improve our wait times,” said Steve Hoskins, KCPD interoperability systems manager.

Hoskins also said that when people call 911, it’s often on their worst day. They could be stressed or anxious and not know what police might ask if they answer, so they hang up.

He wants to remind people to stay on the line and if it was an accident, just let dispatch know.

Hoskins said that in this business, seconds can feel like minutes and minutes can feel like hours. To reduce workload and wait times they’ve implemented the automatic call back system.

“The abandoned call back system is an automated system that will take that abandoned call, call them back for us and get them a recording that says someone called 911, do you need police, fire, or EMS, give them an option to hit a button and say yes, or give them an option to say no it was accidental. If it’s accidental that call then goes away,” Hoskins said.

KCPD said they’re looking at a potential auto attendant in the future to address some of those same issues. The automatic call back is like phase one. They'll present to the board on April 23 about how the feature works.

If you receive a hang up call back, it will come from the number 816-234-5111.