Delta mayor raises concerns about long wait times for emergency and non-emergency calls

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On December 6, 2022, on behalf of the Delta Police Chair, Mayor George V. Harvie wrote to Minister Mike Farnworth expressing the Board’s concerns about E-Comm’s inability to provide necessary call-taking services for the Delta Police Department (DPD) in alignment with the established service standards outlined in the contract.

The letter notes that there have been consistent and ongoing challenges relating to unacceptably long wait times for emergency and non-emergency calls, often leading to abandoned calls. Abandoned calls contribute to inaccurate crime statistics, impacting the adequacy of policing resources, and police safety strategies.

In the letter, the Chair notes that “[t]he failure to meet service standards impacts public safety in our community and the Province’s mandate to ensure adequate and effective policing. Providing excellence in policing services, including timely response to the citizens who contact the DPD for non-emergency and emergency matters, is a priority for the Delta Police Board (DPB) and the DPD. The DPD is built on a foundation of public trust and the expectation that when a citizen calls for service, the DPD will respond quickly. The “no call too small” philosophy runs deep in the core of the DPD and is the platform upon which all team members perform their duties.”

The letter requests for immediate attention, support, and resources from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to address the E-Comm issue, which the Board notes has reputational impacts, contributing to the erosion of public trust in adequate and effective policing.

In December 2021, the DPD, in an effort to uphold the DPD’s “community-first” policing philosophy, initiated a non-emergency call-taking pilot project. Under the pilot, DPD Staff assumed the responsibility of answering non-emergency calls between 7 am to 7 pm daily. Non-emergency calls from 7 pm to 7 am continue to be transferred to E-Comm. The DPD has not been reimbursed by E-Comm for taking non-emergency calls between 7 am to 7 pm, a function outlined in the service agreement with E-Comm.

Chief Dubord notes that “the pilot project results indicate that we have been able to provide better service to the community through an in-house, non-emergency call-taking model. Under the pilot, our Staff created 7,515 non-emergency calls for service from January to November 2022. In 2023, we will work toward developing a permanent in-house non-emergency call taking model, in alignment with the service levels expected by the community.” 

According to City of Delta, DPD continues to provide non-emergency call-taking services between 7 am to 7 pm daily. To date, the DPD has not received any complaints about lengthy wait times during the day; wait times to speak with a DPD call-taker are minimal, which also addresses the issue of abandoned non-emergency calls.