Portland launches effort to study and improve public safety response

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The City of Portland’s Community Safety Division is working with Mission Critical Partners (MCP) – a consulting firm specializing in public safety and justice – to study Portland’s emergency response process and consider alternative response models.

The project involves two initiatives: a study to investigate how emergency and non-emergency calls are prioritized and dispatched; and a study to determine whether there are enough Portland public safety responders to adequately to respond to these calls.

The call-allocation study will examine emergency and non-emergency calls being dispatched today through the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), investigate how these calls are prioritized and dispatched, and assess whether the current process is appropriate and efficient. The study will include the following:

  • A review of the technology used to answer and dispatch calls;
  • Data analysis on call processing and call trends;
  • Interviews and focus groups with community members to understand expectations;
  •  Recommendations for alternative-response models; and
  • A review of constraints to implementing recommendations.

The second study will determine whether the current number of public safety responders from 911, law enforcement, and fire and emergency medical services are adequate to respond to emergency and non-emergency calls as determined by the call-allocation study’s analysis. The study will include the following:

  • A review of current public safety bureau staffing studies, shift arrangements, and response goals for different call types;
  • Comparisons with staffing and shift models used by like-sized cities nationally;
  • Focus groups with public-safety staff members and the community; and
  • Analysis and modeling of the ideal number of responders required for varying types of 911 calls and response models.

The two studies launched in January 2023 and will present their findings in fall 2023