Minneapolis council member calls 911 staffing shortage ‘shocking’

Staffing issues at the Minneapolis 911 center have reached “emergency” levels, and city leadership is searching for a solution.

Minneapolis City Council member, LaTrisha Vetaw, Chairwoman of the Health and Public Safety Committee, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she “did not realize” there were serious staffing shortages at the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center where the number of 911 dispatchers and operators is down 20% compared to this same time of year in 2019.

“Overall, it is just really shocking because I did not know there was such a huge gap like that,” said Vetaw.  “They are taking some of the most important calls in our city right now and we need them to be rested and healthy.”

A current 911 employee, whose identity is being kept anonymous, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Tuesday nearly all of the 51 dispatchers and operators in the 911 center are working 10 to 12-hour days, with some putting in six or seven days a week with that level of overtime.

RELATED: Minneapolis 911 call center faces ’emergency’ staffing shortage

“It’s really bad right now because people are really tired, they’re burned out and morale is very low,” said the 911 employee.  “There is a lot of complaining, especially on the working floor to upper management and unfortunately we have dispatchers who are so overworked they’re falling asleep on the job which is a threat to public safety.”

Council member Vetaw said she will most likely hold committee hearings to find out what can be done as soon as possible to rectify the understaffing issues.

“I think it is going to be very important for me, as Public Safety Chair, to have leadership from the 911 department come in and tell us what the needs are,” said Vetaw.  “I want them to talk to me about not only what’s going on but how can we better help them.”

A city spokesperson said 911 calls are being answered between 12 and 13 seconds which is within the industry standard of 15 seconds.

The city has also posted new job openings for the MECC and is offering a one-thousand dollar bonus if they stay on the job for a certain period of time.