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LAPD Getting to Scene Faster

Average response times decrease citywide after officers are authorized to use red lights and sirens more often when responding to calls.

June 04, 2004|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles police are responding more quickly to emergencies, the result of a new policy directing officers to use red lights and sirens more often, officials said Thursday.

The LAPD has reduced its average emergency response time citywide from 10.5 minutes to 6.5 minutes during the last two weeks, said Cmdr. Michel Moore.

The most success has been in the northwest part of the San Fernando Valley during the day, where response has been cut from 15.5 minutes to 7.5 minutes, Moore said.

"That change in policy has in the first two weeks resulted in a phenomenal drop in response time citywide, and the expectation is that drop will continue," Chief William J. Bratton said.

Bratton said an old system of priorities meant that many cruisers were required to respond to emergencies while observing all traffic laws, often in congested areas, lengthening response time, particularly in the vast San Fernando Valley.

Upgraded to lights-and-siren status are reports of domestic violence or family disturbance, unknown trouble in a residence and criminal assault with the suspect in the area.

Moore said a small number of calls were also downgraded to urgent, because they are not considered emergencies.

They include unknown trouble at a telephone booth, found evidence, a security guard with a petty thief in custody and assault with a deadly weapon where the suspect has fled.

There is not a long list of specific crimes because 911 dispatchers generally still rely on their experience to fix priorities, police said.

Moore said so far, the LAPD has seen no increase in accidents.

Police now answer five times as many calls with sirens and lights as two weeks ago, Moore said.

Bratton said it is the first time since the department set a goal in 1980 of a seven-minute emergency response time that it has been achieved citywide.

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