Hang-ups account for nearly 7,000 of 40,000 calls in 2022
Wayne County’s law enforcement, firefighters, ambulance crews and dispatchers deal with everything from falls to fires and threats of self-harm to sex offenders.
According to recently compiled data, they’re being sought for help more than 300 times per day around the county, on average.
Matthew Cain, director of Wayne County Emergency Communications and Emergency Management, noticed some differences in 2022 compared to prior years. There was a general decrease in the number of law enforcement related calls across the City of Richmond and county, but a slight increase in the number of fire/EMS calls in the county especially, he said.
Western Wayne News also reviewed the 2022 data supplied by Cain; here are just a few of the findings.
What are the top reasons for calls being processed by Wayne County dispatchers last year?
The highest number of calls (6,889), or 9.1%, were 911 hang-ups, closely followed by traffic stops (6,214).
About half that many calls were processed for each of the next three categories: requests to speak with an officer (3,222), business checks (3,084) and sick person/illness (2,969).
Animal problems were close behind at 2,633 calls, not counting 126 reports of animal neglect or 95 animal bites.
Wayne County’s annual dispatch report shows the numbers of calls per month in 172 categories.
Suicides, deaths, overdoses
Dispatchers and responders assist people facing some of their most difficult times. They responded to 13 suicides — five of which were in February — and a total of 514 suicide threats.
Residents also called in 475 reports of a mental or emotional situation. Fifteen calls were for emergency detentions.
They also had 574 calls for a death, 616 calls announcing someone who was unconscious or unresponsive, and 410 calls reporting a person down.
Overdoses were listed in 294 calls. Drugs were reported in 184 calls, along with 40 calls for drug paraphernalia.
Callers also reported 195 intoxicated people and 171 intoxicated drivers.
First responders saw a variety of health concerns. For instance, 1,413 reports were made for difficulty breathing, along with 1,090 falls and 17 falls from height.
They also received 819 calls for chest pain, 348 medical alarms, 249 diabetic problems, 385 seizures, 238 strokes, 129 abdominal pains, 91 cardiac arrests, 64 head injuries and 71 for uncontrolled bleeding.
A fraction of calls are related to weapons or potentially violent crime.
“Shots fired” calls were made 223 times, although some generally turn out to be fireworks after investigation.
Last year, 104 calls reported a person with a gun.
Twenty-seven reports indicated a shooting. Seven stabbings were reported.
Eighteen calls were for robbery, and 28 reported prowlers.
Disputes often occur among people who know each other. Police received 1,781 calls related to verbal domestic situations, and 692 for physical domestic confrontations.
They also responded to 1,551 calls described as civil disputes, 534 reports of harassment, and 221 fights.
Wayne County residents apparently follow the advice to “see something, say something.”
Dispatchers processed 1,914 calls for a suspicious person, 1,148 for a suspicious vehicle, and 1,019 calls for suspicious activity.
An additional 1,252 calls noted an unwanted person.
First responders assisted with a variety of concerns related to juveniles of all ages, starting with 19 childbirth calls.
Juvenile problems were reported 658 times, and officers also assisted the Department of Child Services 175 times.
They received 180 calls for runaways and 66 calls for a runaway return.
Fifty-seven lost/found child calls were made.
Twelve calls reported juvenile shoplifting, but most shoplifting calls involved adults (329).
They also investigated 59 reports of a juvenile being battered, but again, a majority of battery calls involved adults (233).
Four calls reported truancy.
Twenty-two callers reported abuse and five reported neglect, although the ages of the victims weren’t specific. Three reported abduction or kidnapping.
Dispatchers handled 549 calls related to sex offenses. However, no rape or attempted rapes were listed separately. Deputies routinely verify sex offenders are still living at the addresses they have supplied to law enforcement.
Firefighters were called to 194 reports of structure fires and 13 garage fires around the county.
Number of calls, texts
When last year’s 911 (40,098) and inbound and outbound administrative calls (71,746) were combined, the county’s dispatchers answered 111,844 calls, an average of 306.4 per day.
That number was about 200 calls higher than 2021’s total.
And, the number of texts to 9-1-1 steadily increased in 2022 at 435, compared to 234 in 2020 and 277 in 2021.
Cain said the numbers and statistics released in the agency’s annual report only show a small fraction of the work that employees do each and every day.
“Many aspects of the profession are very difficult to track or show on a graph and the ‘behind the scenes’ work isn’t heard on the radio,” Cain said.
Some of those tasks include running background checks and running criminal histories for the probation department, prosecutor’s office, fulfilling public information requests, continued training/education, and entering all stolen articles, vehicles, and warrants into the National Crime Information Center database.
“As always, I am very proud of our staff and the critical role that they play in the emergency services; being the first, first-responder,” Cain said.
Who was contacted?
Most calls went to Richmond Police Department (31,063). About half that number were for Wayne County Sheriff’s Office (15,284). Town police departments were contacted 8,534 times.
In terms of medical and fire needs, Richmond Fire Department was contacted 10,469 times, and volunteer fire departments received 2,431 calls. Reid EMS, which provides ambulance service outside Richmond, received 2,922 calls.
Calls for each police department
Cambridge City: 3,543 calls for the year. The Top 10 totals included traffic stops (764), speak with an officer (429), business check (389), investigation (115), animal problem (88), welfare check (87), business alarm (85), suspicious person (76), suspicious vehicle (63), and motor vehicle accident with property damage (59).
Centerville: 2,832 calls for the year. Traffic stops (413) led the list, followed by speak with an officer (348), business check (139), welfare check (118), animal problem (101), domestic-verbal (83), motor vehicle accident with property damage (80), civil dispute (70), investigation (59) and juvenile problem (55).
Greens Fork: 151 calls for the year. Traffic stops were nearly all the responses (144), followed by one report each of civil dispute, domestic-physical, drowning, intoxicated person, investigation, unwanted person and wanted person.
Fountain City: 366 calls for the year. Traffic stops, not surprisingly, led with 49, followed by business check (45), investigations (33), animal problem and community policing (both with 18), speak with officer (17), vehicle/boat identification (15), disabled vehicle (12), investigating mischief (9), motor vehicle accident with property damage, vehicle lockout, and assist law enforcement (each with 7).
Hagerstown: 1,642 calls for the year. Traffic stops (383) were more than twice the next-highest category, speak with an officer (185), followed by animal problem (60), welfare check (57), motor vehicle with property damage (45), vehicle lockout (44), suspicious person (41), suspicious vehicle (37), residential alarm and community policing (both 35).
Richmond: 31,063 calls for the year. The top 10 each had more than 1,000 each: Traffic stop (3,007), business check (1,574), suspicious person (1,531), welfare check (1,507), speak with an officer (1,416), domestic-verbal (1,366), animal problem (1,336), civil dispute (1,145), motor vehicle accident with property damage (1,122), unwanted person (1,009).
Wayne County Sheriff’s Office: 15,284 calls for the year. Top interactions were traffic stop (1,989), business check (914), animal problem (831), vacant house check (775), motor vehicle accident with property damage (683), investigation (675), speak with an officer (593), court paperwork/process (579), vehicle/boat identification (564), sex offense (510).
Costs at a glance
Having professional dispatchers available at a moment’s notice isn’t free.
The department’s total expenses were $1.9 million, of which nearly $1.5 million was wages, salaries and benefits. About one-third ($503,980.16) came from the 911 Fund. The county’s share was $535,505.82 and Richmond contributed $440,338.59.
More than $238,000 was spent for technology equipment, circuits and maintenance agreements.
Cain said his department paid just $27,980 in overtime last year, thanks to creative scheduling and administration still maintaining all certifications and being able to cover shifts.
“We feel for a 24/7 agency with 25 employees and minimum staffing levels that must be maintained, this is just remarkable and a perfect example of being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars,” Cain said.
A version of this article appeared in the March 1 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.