KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While spending on public safety is increased in a new budget proposed by the city, KCPD will not get some of the staff they've requested.
To address long 911 wait times, Chief Smith suggested adding 21 new police dispatchers who can take calls. The added positions would cost $1.07 million.
The Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget, however, only adds eight new dispatchers.
City Communications Director Chris Hernandez said the number comes from a $134,000 staffing study released last year.
Overall the department's budget will get a $5.6 million bump in funding.
"You look at this budget that we are recommending to the City Council, and the only increases are for public safety, for police and fire," Hernandez said.
While asking the city to add dispatchers, KCPD has been working to fill vacant positions in the unit. In a September 2017 blog post, Chief Smith said there were 14 vacancies. Some of the those positions were filled by October.
The problem of finding and keeping dispatchers and 911 call takers isn't unique to KCPD.
"This is an issue that is not just regional in nature, but national in nature," Mid-America Regional Council Public Safety Director Eric Winebrenner explained.
His agency is currently exploring ways to prevent burnout among dispatchers, including creating a peer support group.
In the meantime, filling just 8 new dispatcher positions at KCPD won't be an easy task.
"In general filling dispatcher positions has shown to be difficult across the region. That doesn't mean it can't be done. It's finding the right people to fill those positions," Winebrenner explained.