Salt Lake City police response times dip, citywide crime decreases, chief says

The department continues to work on goals from its updated crime plan, the chief said.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown presents a revised crime control plan to media at the Public Safety Building, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Brown on Thursday updated the public on a decrease in crime over the past 28 days, and he explained new strategies aimed at expediting officer responses.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown on Thursday announced that the average time it took officers to respond to high priority calls in the city dipped in November — clocking in at at 12 minutes and 58 seconds on average, compared with August’s high of 17 minutes and 34 seconds.

Brown also updated the public Thursday on a decrease in crime over the past 28 days, and he explained new strategies aimed at expediting officer responses, including handling low-priority calls over the phone.

Lowering crime and speeding up officer responses marked two of the department’s four goals outlined in its updated crime control plan, announced in early November.

Last month’s average response time for high-priority calls remains higher than Brown’s goal of under 10 minutes. But the November average was lower than October’s average of 14 minutes and 16 seconds,

“That’s a considerable improvement from October, and where we were in August, but still, great job by our officers,” Brown said. “I know they’re running call-to-call; they’re busy and they’re doing a great job.”

Brown could not cite a clear reason for the faster response times. It could be that there were fewer crimes reported, he said. It also could be because of a new triage program, which diverts low-priority calls away from officer dispatch lists, he said. Since Oct. 20, when the program started, more than 1,300 low-priority calls have been handled over the phone instead of through a dispatched patrol officer, according to Brown.

The department is still short on officers, Brown noted. SLCPD currently has 57 officer vacancies — up from 55 in August.

In the meantime, as the department works to fill those openings, on-duty specialty units — such as bike squads and motor squads — are handling more calls for service during their shifts. Once calls for service are manageable for the amount of staffed patrol officers, those specialty units will return to their assigned work.

“We are headed in the right direction,” Brown said.

Citywide crime is down 23% in the last 28 days, Brown said; violent crime in particular is down 1% and property crime is down 25%.

Year-to-date, overall crime is down 4.3% — but Brown said the department still has more work to do, specifically in regards to gun offenses. In November alone, officers seized 40 guns.

“There are too many guns on the streets that are being used illegally,” Brown said. “They’re being used to intimidate, to injure and to even kill.”

“I have an ask: if you know the gun is being used in the commission of a crime,” he continued, “or if you know about a crime that’s about to happen involving a firearm, please call 911 so that our officers can respond so that we, our detectives, can investigate, and so we can hold people accountable.”