Atlanta 911 centers need help answering thousands of calls daily, union says

ATLANTA — On Friday, a man was shot in Buckhead, and several people tried to call 911 for assistance. Sadly, none of the callers were able to get through. An Atlanta police officer was eventually able to get to an operator by using a back radio channel.

Channel 2 was able to get a recording of the call.

“I’m trying to get this information out, because they tried to call 911, but no one was able to answer.”

Gina Pagnotta Murphy is the union president who represents the 95, 911 operators. She said she told city leaders in 2019 that more operators are needed in the call center.

“These issues have been going on a long time,” said Murphy.

The job still requires that you have enough staff to answer these calls in a short amount of time and not to be placed on hold for long periods of time.

The assistant police chief, Todd Coyt, oversees the call center. He and Director Desiree Arnold want to reassure the public that the operators are working.

“Anytime a complaint comes in, we look to see what we can do to make it better,” said Coyt.

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The center receives about 3,000 calls a day and is short-staffed. It currently needs to fill about 24 positions.

“This is more of a job that you have to have a passion for. So we’re searching for passionate people,” said Coyt.