Woman says she called retired officer when she couldn’t get through to Austin 911

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman said she was put on hold Sunday while trying to call 911 to report a man on a bike getting hit by a car in the intersection of South Lamar Boulevard and Toomey Road.

The Austin Police Department confirmed officers responded to a crash around 12:15 a.m. and said the cyclist was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Ken Casaday, a former APD officer and former president of the Austin Police Association (APA), said the woman called him saying she could not get through to 911 and asked him for help instead.

“I called an officer downtown.. to help dispatch someone,” Casaday said.

APD said the woman’s call that ultimately went through was on hold for about three minutes. The department did not confirm whether officers were dispatched because of the 911 call or because of Casaday’s call.

Police said once a unit was assigned to the scene, crews got to the intersection in about four minutes.

At this month’s Public Safety Commission meeting, APD provided an update on 911 staffing numbers. You can see the update below.

APD staff chart
APD’s June 2023 update on 911 staffing numbers.

“We’re starting seven new call-takers and seven new dispatchers going through training,” the officer presenting the numbers said. Call-takers answer all incoming 911 calls, while dispatchers communicate directly with law enforcement.

They also said APD had recently met with the city manager’s officer to discuss the staffing shortages. KXAN reached out to the city manager’s office for further comment on what kind of priority this has taken, but we have not heard back.

“It’s more important than anything in the city,” Casaday said. “You’ve got to be able to answer 911 calls.”

APD said the city is looking at further incentives to recruit and retain 911 staff.

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