11 CALL FOR ACTION: Stopping Unanswered 911 Calls

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During the last few years 11 News has been reporting on unanswered 911 calls. Now, the Colorado Springs police chief is finally asking for more people to staff the call center.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey is now saying he needs at least 10 more people in the call center. We've been reporting on the problem since 2011, when viewers started calling us saying their calls to 911 just rang, and rang, and rang.

"I just kept looking at the phone,” Dorothy Sanderson recalled. “I'm thinking, I'm panicking, 'Maybe I dialed wrong?'"

We first told you about Sanderson’s story two years ago. Her mom was having a stroke, and according to her phone records, her call to 911 rang for about a minute before she gave up and hung up.

Sanderson wasn't the only one. Mark Gonzales told 11 News at the time that he too had problems when he most needed help.

"I just couldn't get through and I didn't know who else to call," Gonzales said.

Two years later, Carey is finally asking for more staff in the call center. 11 News was in that call center Tuesday, and talked to the communications manager Renee Henshaw. She agrees they need more people.

"Obviously we know our calls have been increasing over the years and we haven't increased those numbers...they did recommend that we need additional bodies to answer those telephone calls," Henshaw said.

Last year Henshaw said the call center received nearly 600,000 calls. Last summer, one call taker was responsible for 3,000 calls in one month. The city budget must be approved before additional call takers could be added.

Authorities say one way we can all help alleviate the call volume is to recognize a true emergency. They say in most cases, unless someone's life is in danger or a crime is in progress, it's best to call the non-emergency line.

That number is 444-7000.

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