The siren call: Ephrata Police response time focus of Adamstown council meeting

By on August 10, 2016

The Ephrata Police Department received its first six-month “report card” regarding response time, at the Adamstown Borough meeting Aug. 2.

The report was compiled by Ephrata Police Lt. Chris McKim and presented to Mayor Dean Johnson, which he then discussed with council.

“I did a weighted average of all four (codes), and percentage-wise, it comes out to seven-and-a-half minutes’ response time,” said Johnson.

Police response time was a critical issue when the borough was deciding on possibly ending its 35-year police coverage with East Cocalico.

“I know when we went through the interviews and talks, I heard three minutes (response time), I heard four minutes, I heard five minutes, and this is above five minutes,” Johnson said.

McKim explained the call categories.

“Code 1 and 2 dispatches are emergencies,” said McKim. “A response to these calls may affect someone’s health. Please note that Code 1 calls tend to lean toward medical emergencies, where Code 2 is geared more toward potential or actual crime in progress.

“It is also important to recognize that these are mostly original dispatch incident types, and may not necessarily reflect the actual nature of the call. Codes 3 and 4 are generally not known emergencies, but to have a sense of urgency. In some cases, evidence may be lost without a prompt response.”

Here is the breakdown:

Code 1: 9:06 minute response time, 10.87 percent of calls.

Code 2: 7:28 minute response time, 66.30 percent of calls.

Code 3: 8:08 minute response time, 15.22 percent of calls.

Code 4: 6:27 minute response time, 7.61 percent of calls.

Councilman Alex McManimen asked if the borough had response time data to compare from the East Cocalico Police.

The answer was no, but some council members contended it did not take East Cocalico officers five minutes to get to Adamstown from their station.

Councilwoman Cindy Schweitzer asked McKim if he could include this in an annual report for future tracking.

“I’ll do another in six months, put them together and average them and report back so we have some way to trend what’s going on,” said McKim. “Any bad trends, we want to catch them early.”

McKim said he did not include response times that were under one minute.

“It’s difficult with statistics depending on what you do include and what you don’t include; it can sway pretty far,” said McKim. “I errored on the side of caution at each turn for this analysis, throwing out very low numbers which may have been useful to move the average.

“For instance, anything that was under a minute response time, I didn’t count. If somebody is sitting here in Adamstown and they get the call, I’m going to lose that number because they’re already here.”

“We’re really comparing ‘apples to apples’,” Johnson said. “I’m very pleased with the Ephrata Police Department. There’s been a large presence. We’ve had more compliments about them. Even though the weighted average is 7.5 minutes, I think that’s rather good.”

The Ephrata Police Department was made aware of one complaint regarding response time.

“It did not come from a citizen involved, rather a former East Cocalico police officer became aware of a 16-minute response to a crash,” said McKim. “He mentioned it to a resident and it eventually came to our attention. The crash involved no injuries, and according to the dispatch, the vehicles were off the roadway in a parking lot. This information would not justify an emergency response.”

A few items on the agenda were put on hold because council members Jessica Kelly, Mike Wetherhold, and Randy Good were absent.


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