There’s a Call Reporting a Crime in Progress. How Long Does It Take for the Police to Send a Car in Your Precinct?

Although required under a 1991 law, the city does not publish data by precinct that tells New Yorkers how long it takes the police department to respond to a 911 call—from the initial call to the time officers arrive at the scene. What we do have on the precinct level is dispatch time, the minutes and seconds it takes for a police dispatcher to find and assign officers to respond to a possible crime in progress. We have mapped the variation in dispatch times in fiscal year 2018 for each of the city’s 77 police precincts.

Wide Variations in Average Dispatch Times by Police Precinct, 2018

Data in table form available here.

  • Citywide, the average dispatch time for roughly 450,000 possible crime-in-progress incidents in 2018 was 3.8 minutes. This was up from a citywide average of 3.0 minutes in 2014.
  • Average dispatch time varied widely among police precincts, with a low of 1.6 minutes in the 100th Precinct in the Rockaways to a high of 8.0 minutes in the 47th Precinct in the Wakefield and Woodlawn neighborhoods of the Bronx.
  • Across the city, nine precincts had crime in progress dispatch times greater than 5 minutes. Six of those precincts were in the Bronx.
  • The gap between average dispatch time in the Bronx and the average citywide has grown.
    In 2018, the average dispatch time of 5.6 minutes in the Bronx exceeded the citywide average by nearly 2 minutes, about three times the difference in 2014.
  • Two potential explanations for why dispatch times have risen more rapidly in the Bronx are undercut by some key facts. Crime-in-progress incidents rose less rapidly in the Bronx than in the rest of the city from 2014 through 2018. Moreover, the number of uniformed officers assigned to the Bronx increased more rapidly than elsewhere over the same period.

Print version available here.

Prepared by Bernard O’Brien
New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: IBO mapping of dispatch data from the Mayor’s Office of Management Budget, Fiscal Year 2018 District Resource Statement for the New York Police Department
NOTES: For years the New York Police Department has failed to provide the City Council with quarterly reports on police response time disaggregated by borough, precinct, and the three daily police shifts as required under Local Law 89 of 1991. The Mayor’s Management Report presents dispatch time as well as the time it takes for the first squad car to arrive at an incident, but only on a citywide basis. The Citywide Performance Reporting site presents dispatch and travel time on a precinct basis, but has not been updated since 2016.

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