SPOKANE, Wash.—Callers expect an immediate response when they call 911 but unfortunately, that is not always possible especially when authorities are short staffed. Nobody knows that better than the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office who has fewer deputies in 2014 than it did in 2008.
KREM’s 2 on Your Side investigation looked into how the shift in staffing impacted response times.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office had 30 fewer deputies on Tuesday than it did in 2008.
The Sheriff’s Office covered all 1,700 square miles in its jurisdiction in 2014 with just ten deputies in the unincorporated Spokane area. A minimum of six deputies covered the area in the Spokane Valley.
“We cover the most roads in the state,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
The Sheriff said that could hinder response times to emergencies.
KREM 2 News asked the Sheriff how long it takes for deputies to get to an in-progress crime call.
“Depending on where they are in their district-- some of the districts are very large-- it can take 7 minutes to 15 minutes,” said Sheriff Knezovich.
That seven to 15 minutes average was for the most serious calls such as stabbings, shootings and domestic violence situations. The Sheriff admitted the average response time increased while his number of deputies decreased. The number of Spokane County deputies dropped 13% since 2008.
The Sheriff said the response time in 2008 when they were fully staffed would have been about five minutes.
Spokane County residents said they hoped to get the spots filled in order for response times to be the best they can be.
Sheriff Knezovich said he was doing everything he could to fill the open spots. He added that he wanted community members to know they were in good hands.
Authorities hired five new deputies and were recruiting to hire seven more in May.