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Citizens fed up with Memphis 911

Published: Oct. 15, 2015 at 8:48 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2015 at 10:11 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Seconds matter when your life is on the line. According to the Memphis Police Department, they are getting at least 17 additional dispatchers next week.

But, that doesn't mean you will not be placed on hold or these new hires will stay on the job.

Citizens say they are fed up with the current Memphis 911 system.

"My brother was hollering. I come out the house and she done threw something on him. I called 911, an hour later they ain't showed up yet. I had to take him to the fire department," said William Wilson, who was put on hold by 911 dispatchers.

Wilson is not the only one. Like Wilson, Rinicka Bell was automatically placed on hold when calling 911 to save her sister's life.

"Change the system around like....Better systems as far as us calling in. People calling in dealing with all types of emergencies," said Bell.

Memphis police say when people call and hang up or call 911 for non-emergency reasons, it clogs the system and places those in need further behind in line.

On Sunday, 48-year-old Johnny Algee was arrested for 911 abuse for the third time.

According to the police affidavit, he told officers he called because 'he was just lonely.'

MPD 911 Communications Manager Marvin Pender describes the job of a dispatcher as a major sacrifice.

"You're going to miss a lot of time with your family. You spend a lot of time here. You've got to be able to handle the stress. You got to be able to work holidays, snow days, rain, sleet, snow," said Pender.

Seventeen dispatchers starting Monday will be taking classes for seven weeks before they begin on-the-job training. They will not be able to assist with productivity for at least two months.

Pender said many new hires cannot take the stress of the job.

"When you hire a class, you're good to get 50 percent out of that class. So everybody doesn't stay. Everybody's not made to be a dispatcher," said Pender.

After the new hires next week, the next class will have 19 dispatchers. They should start in February.

Memphis is a city of more than 640,000 people with 109 dispatchers.

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