published Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Franklin County 911 calls saw significant increase in 2011

BY THE NUMBERS

Below are the numbers of calls and the closest-related agency involved for the past three years in Franklin County.

2009

  • 3,123: Emergency medical service
  • 3,451: All fire departments
  • 126,068*: All law enforcement agencies

2010

  • 3,453: Emergency medical service
  • 4,440: All fire departments
  • 146,430*: All law enforcement agencies

2011

  • 3,587: Emergency medical service
  • 5,050: All fire departments
  • 85,281: All law enforcement agencies
  • 75,115: All agencies building and security checks
  • 160,396: Total all calls, all law enforcement agencies

*Total includes building and security checks, all agencies

Source: Franklin County 911 Center

Franklin County dispatchers have answered between 11,000 and 14,000 more calls than last year thanks to significant increases in burglaries, thefts and the added building security checks those crimes create, authorities said.

Holiday increases are typical, but burglaries and theft calls late last year surged significantly along with domestic violence calls, Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said Monday.

Fuller said he doesn’t believe the late-year increase in burglary and theft calls stems from unemployment or the down economy as much as it follows drug use, but the upswing keeps officers communicating more often with dispatchers.

“As a result of that, we stepped up security checks and that’s in that number as well,” he said.

Security checks are nothing new for law enforcement, but when Franklin started logging the checks in 2006 that meant officers and dispatchers had added radio conversations at every stop, he said.

Less visible factors that also weigh in call volumes are prisoner transports for court hearings and medical treatment and 911 calls from a growing number of people who want police to solve their neighborhood and family spats, Fuller said.

Franklin County 911 Director Kathy Blazier said the increases show up in every agency’s call volume. The center dispatches the sheriff office, five city police departments, 13 volunteer fire departments, rescue squad, two ambulance stations, utility emergencies, highway department “and the dogcatcher,” Blazier said.

“We have been having about 125,000 calls a year,” she said. In 2011, security checks for all law enforcement tallied almost half the total calls, she noted.

An added impact on call volume stems from the growing use of cell phones, Blazier said.

“Our cell phones have pretty much tripled,” she said, noting the sheer number of cell phones in use now mean any incident that might have generated a call or two a few years ago now generates many calls.

In December, Franklin dispatchers took 271 calls from land lines and 715 from cell phones, illustrating a continuing trend away from the phone on the wall, she said.

So far, Fuller said, increased calls haven’t forced a major increase in personnel.

“It does decrease response time, and that does hurt,” he said. He said part-time, certified officers who work full time at Arnold Engineering Development Center give the sheriff’s office a little backup when needed.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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