By Kris Dessen, Public Relations Officer
After three years of focused and steady improvement, the Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA) concluded its seventh consecutive month of meeting – or exceeding – its call answering percentage goal. LESA’s call answering performance for March was 93%. LESA is celebrating this accomplishment during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which runs from April 10-16, 2011. This week honors the thousands of men and women who respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance.
A widely publicized Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Assessment published in 2009, reported that since 1995, LESA failed to meet Pierce County’s call answering standard, which states that 90% of all calls in the busy hour should be answered within 12 seconds. That statement ceased to be true beginning in September 2010, when LESA’s call answering performance was 91% – and has stayed at or above 90% since.
How did LESA do this during a time where agencies are expected to do more with less? Even with overhire authority, hiring an infinite – or even ideal – number of communications officers (call takers) and dispatchers was not an option. Instead, LESA analyzed and addressed the variety of problems that could contribute to the lower call answering performance and, as a result, shifted resources within the agency and implemented technology solutions.
“The fluidity in which the agency works, means that everyone in the organization is a part of LESA’s success,” said Interim Director Mike Carson. “This incredible, yet sustainable, improvement was not the result of any one thing. Instead, we looked at a large number of factors, including the implementation of some creative scheduling. Without the dedication and resolve of our Communications staff – along with collaboration with the (Teamster’s) Union – this simply would not have happened.”
Some of the service, process or technology improvements implemented include the creation of the Telephone Report Unit and the Communication Support Officer position, the development of Citizen Online Reporting, and the continued success of LESA’s community education program. Additionally, accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ (CALEA) Public Safety Communications Program boosts morale and is one way to prove what has been in practice for many years.
“CALEA accreditation provides proof to the community and our law enforcement partners that we are a well-oiled machine, that we are run efficiently and we are accountable,” said Interim Director Carson. “Accreditation is a true testament to LESA and its dedicated employees.”