Shortage of 911 dispatchers raises grave concerns in major U.S. city: ‘Nobody answers the phone’


PHILADELPHIA, PA– Typically, those who call 9-1-1 do so because there is an imminent emergency they need assistance with. In such situations, one would expect for someone to quickly answer the call and assist with whatever the need is. 

That used to be the case, however, since the defunding police and the anti-police movements began, police departments are stretched thin across the board, and the manpower is just not there any longer in many departments across the country.

A group of people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently learned that help is not always just one call away, not given today’s current climate at least.

One of those individuals, Albert Palubinsky, spoke to Action News, and said that on Monday, July 26th, around 11 p.m. he and his neighbors were alerted to a fire across the street by a woman walking her dog.

Palubinsky said that the events that unfolded next were disturbing, as several members of the community called 9-1-1, but no one answered the phone. 

Albert Palubinsky said:

“I call 9-1-1, Kevin calls 9-1-1, my wife calls 9-1-1, and nobody answers the phone,”

He continued:

“I say it lasted about 20 minutes because at first the phone had just rang and rang and rang until it disconnected,”

After alerting the occupants of the building, neighbor Kevin Little jumped into action and attempted to put the fire out himself, knowing he was not able to get ahold of anyone for emergency assistance.

Little said:

“I had two small fire extinguishers, so I was able to initially put the fire out but it came back,” 

Albert’s wife Beth finally thought to call the 18th Police District, where someone answered the phone.

She said:

“And within two minutes, there was a fleet of fire trucks,” 

Philadelphia police have admitted that 9-1-1 wait times are still too long due to an increase in call volume and staffing shortages, Action News reported.

Funding to hire 75 additional dispatchers was recently approved by Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney, and the first group just graduated last week.

Fortunately, once firefighters were alerted by police, they were able to put the fire out quickly.

Although assistance eventually arrived, residence still have very little faith in the current 9-1-1 system. 

Beth Palubinsky said:

“The fault it seems to be is in a system that allows there not to be enough people to answer enough calls. How can that be?” 

She went on to say:

“This was a wake-up call to us because if it hadn’t been for the neighbors… thank God for my neighbors.”

Police are hopeful the hiring of 75 additional dispatchers will vastly improve wait times.

Philadelphia Fire Department’s fiscal year 2022 budget testimony provided the following information for fire and EMS response times:

-The average fire engine response time in 2020 was 6 minutes 35 seconds. The goal for FY 21 & 22 is for that response time to be 6 min 39 sec or less.

-In 2020, 22.39% of fire calls were responded to within 5 min 20 sec. The goal for FY 21 & 22 is for at least 90% of calls to be responded to within 5 min 20 sec.

-The average EMS response time in 2020 was 11 min 4 sec. The goal for FY 21 & 22 is for that response time to be 9 min or less.

-In 2020, 34.1% of fire calls were responded to within 9 min. The goal for FY 21 & 22 is for at least 90% of calls to be responded to within 9 min.

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‘Defund the police’? Woman found dead 52 minutes after 911 call about ‘someone being murdered’

June 18, 2021

KENT, WA – Question and scrutiny are looming after Kent Police and medics took 52 minutes to respond to a 911 call of a suspected murder in progress inside of a room at a local hotel in Kent. 

Minutes after police arrived at the hotel, the woman was declared deceased at the scene, with police making one arrest of a male occupant inside of the room. 

On June 14th at approximately 10:56 a.m., a security officer at the Ramada Inn located at 22318 84th Avenue South had called 911 about a suspected murder in progress ongoing in one of the hotel rooms, telling dispatchers: 

“We have someone being murdered in 214!”

According to reports, the security officer called 911 again 30 minutes later at 11:26 a.m. urging that “a man was beating her really bad,” inside of the hotel room. 

Reportedly guests and hotel staff had tried breaking down the hotel door before police arrived on the scene, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

Apparently, even with using the hotel’s mater key card, the swing latch inside of the room prevented the door from being breached by employees and guests.

Kent Police officers and medics arrived on the scene at approximately 11:48 a.m., where they’d discovered the body of 33-year-old Amber Keith inside of the hotel room. 

Keith was pronounced deceased at the scene minutes after medics and police arrived. 

Inside of the room at the time was 36-year-old Phillip Jonathan Lopez, the man who was later arrested for allegedly murdering Keith.

Police say that prior to their arrival on scene, Lopez had called 911 himself at 11:43 a.m. and proclaimed that Keith was suffering from an overdose. During that 911 call, Lopez was coached by the 911 operator on how to administer CPR. 

Kent Police detectives noted that after reviewing the 911 audio from Lopez’s call from June 14th, it sounded as though that Lopez stopped administering CPR and moved away from his phone before police arrived on the scene. 

Arresting officers noted that Lopez had blood on his face and scratches on both of his forearms when being taken into custody. 

While an official cause of death hasn’t been determined regarding Keith, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office did say that the victim’s death was not due to natural causes. 

A toxicology report did reveal traces of various narcotics in the victim’s system, but charging documents also point out that Keith had suffered apparent physical injuries to her face and bleeding in her throat that was consistent with strangulation. 

Inside of the hotel room, detectives found blood on the walls, floor and bed sheets – as well as $30,000 in cash, a handgun under the mattress, methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin and other various narcotics. 

Lopez has since been charged with second-degree murder domestic violence. 

When questions were raised regarding the lengthy response time, Kent Police Commander Robert Hollis stated that it was namely due to poor communication between the 911 call center and police regarding the priority of the call. 

The 911 call center informed Kent Police at the time that the first call 911 from the hotel was “sounds of domestic violence in a hotel room with transients,” which Commander Hollis said is a fairly common call they receive. 

At around the same time of the first 911 call on June 14th, Commander Hollis said they’d received a call about a suicidal person with a weapon, so they treated said call with priority over what they believed to be a simple domestic incident at the time. 

However, Commander Hollis had the following to say after learning and reviewing the audio from the 911 call that was improperly conveyed to police: 

“Had we had that additional information, we would’ve been going to the Ramada.”

Kent Police is one of nine South King County police agencies that have 911 calls handled through Valley Communications Center, which Call Center Operations Manager Angee Bunk said an internal investigation is being launched over the alleged miscommunication. 

In other news, we at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on a man accused of murdering an infant who grabbed a police officer’s gun while inside of an interview room back in May. 

Here’s that previous report. 


LAS VEGAS, NV – Police officials recently released the video of a man accused of murdering a two-year-old boy trying to grab an officer’s firearm while inside of a police interview room at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters building. 

Luckily, no one was hurt during the May 12th incident. 

On May 12th, LVMPD officers were interrogating 27-year-old Terrell Rhodes in connection with the killing of two-year-old Amari Nicholson that occurred May 5th. 

Reportedly, Amari had been reported missing on May 5th, with Rhodes having initially told investigators that the child was taken by an unknown family member. 

Days after the child was reported missing, Rhodes had allegedly confessed to killing the two-year-old child after Amiri had urinated on himself. 

Amiri was reportedly left in Rhodes’ care when the child’s mother had left the state to go take care of her own mother. Police say that Rhodes had rendered a crudely drawn map to lead authorities to where he’s reportedly hid the child’s body after the murder.

Utilizing the hand-drawn map, police located Amiri’s body within the 400 block of East Twain Avenue.

When Rhodes was being brought into a police interview room on May 12th, the suspect is visibly upset and is crying while squirming as officers are trying to have him take a seat. 

Rhodes had allegedly told police in the interview room “let me out of here,” and that he “can’t go back.”

Suddenly, Rhodes can be seen reaching over to one of the officer’s holstered weapon, actually taking control of the firearm. 


The two officers inside of the interview immediately try to get the firearm out of the suspect’s hands, with then two other officers coming in to assist. 

According to the police report on the incident inside of LVMPD headquarters, Rhodes allegedly said “I’m going to kill a mother fucker,” while the struggle for the gun took place. 

Luckily, officers were able to subdue Rhodes and no injuries were reported from the incident. 

After the suspect was under control, Rhodes reportedly told police “I wanna die,” and “kill me.”

Terrell Rhodes - Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Terrell Rhodes – Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Following the death of the young child, in concurrence with the incident at police headquarters, Rhodes was charged with murder, attempted murder with a deadly weapon, assault on a protected person with the use of a deadly weapon and resisting a public officer with the use of a firearm.

Rhodes was said to have pled not guilty to the charges and is due back in court on June 25th. 


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