Police: Columbus protests hold up response to other calls

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — On the night of May 30, the first Saturday of protests, scores of Columbus Police officers worked to enforce the curfew and to move protesters off the streets and away from downtown.

That same night, calls for service from other parts of the city were backing up 

In the police radio room, the response time for a call of a burglary in progress was one hour and 51 minutes. A call of possible domestic violence waited five hours and 21 minutes. And a call about a possible fight was pending for more than an hour and 45 minutes.

“Those are going to be outliers, but that actually has happened and when that does happen, our call takers, our dispatchers, our supervisors are doing everything they possibly can to get the first car that’s cleared up,” said Commander Robert Meader, who oversees the police Communications Center.

Police confirm that at peak protest times, there have been more than 100 calls for service pending in the queue.

Dispatchers prioritize calls with any reports of weapons, injuries, and immediate threats of violence taking top priority. Some of those calls require a minimum of two officers respond.

“We’re notifying officers on the street that we are holding priority runs,” Meader said. “We’re communicating with the sergeants on the street and the lieutenants to let them know, but we only have so many officers that are available.”

Meader said calls of neighborhood disputes or fireworks complaints when there’s no threat or weapon involved will wait longer.

“It’s going to, at times, be hours before we can get there because our officers are doing things that we have never done for such a long time and that is to be downtown,” he said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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