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Phone familiarity leads to overall call drop in Kewaunee County

You are getting better at using your phone, and the proof is in the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department Communications Center numbers. According to Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski, its communication center responded to 8,220 calls in 2022, less than the approximately 9,000 calls it received in 2021. The biggest drop came from 911 hang-ups which dropped nearly 400 year-over-year. Joski credits the change with people becoming better educated about how their phones work and the apps that they use. He adds that the better technology may have caused the number of calls they received for things like traffic offenses, welfare checks, and citizens. Joski believes people feel more comfortable safely calling the police when issues arise.

Fourteen men and women alternate shifts at the Kewaunee County Communications Center to provide 24/7 coverage throughout the year. You can dive deeper into the numbers behind the calls in the dispatch calls below.

 

FROM SHERIFF JOSKI

For this week, I would like to continue in my annual report to the community and focus on what is many times the first point of contact that our community has with not only the Sheriff’s Department but all of our emergency services as well; our Public Safety Communications Center. As I have written on many times, our Dispatchers are very unique in that they are not just serving in the capacity of Dispatchers, but do double duty as Jailers as well. While their job duties as Jailers are very important, I am going to focus on their roles as Dispatchers and cover the Jail operations in next week’s article.

           So, what is a Public Safety Communications Center? It is the answering point for all of our County’s 911 lines along with the Sheriff’s Department non-emergency phone lines. It serves as the sole resource for dispatching our local emergency services including Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Medical services.

           It is also our single point of contact for all local law enforcement agencies as well as our State Law Enforcement partners operating within our county. This means that every traffic stop, vehicle accident and call for service is relayed through our Dispatchers as they conduct record checks for criminal history, vehicle registration, driver’s license, warrants, probation records, and bail conditions so that the Deputy and/or Officer out on the street maintains the best possible situational awareness.

           As it relates to answering 911 calls, it is the Dispatcher who receives the calls from frantic callers, and they must be the calming voice to assure the caller that services are on the way, while obtaining vital information for the resources responding.

          Our Communications Center is staffed by 14 men and women who work alternating shifts to provide the 24 hour a day 265 days a year service. This staffing level has remained at this level for the past twenty years, even though the call volume and demands has increased significantly. In 2000 when we began our current computer records system we received and responded to 5,079 calls. In 2022 we responded to 8,220.

          The highest frequency of calls that we receive are categorized as “Rescue Calls” which accounted for 1,312 calls. This is up from 1,287 calls in 2021. These calls range from citizens who may be in their homes experiencing medical emergencies to patients at local clinics who are in need of transport due to a medical emergency. In each of these calls our dispatchers lay an important role in obtaining vital information about the patient and then following up with the appropriate response based on location and sense of urgency.

         While much less frequent, another category of emergency calls we receive are those requesting the service of our local fire departments. In 2022 we received 76 calls versus 98 in 2021. While not as frequent as other calls, these incidents are typically very involved and require a great deal of coordination and communication. These calls also last a great deal longer as the responding agencies work together in both the initial response as well as the lengthy efforts to completely extinguish the fire, preventing future flare ups.

        The next most frequent are 911 hang ups at 586 which compares to 990 in 2021. These are many times accidental mis-dials which require follow up either by our dispatcher or in many cases actually sending an officer to the location where the call came from. Thanks to Next Generation 911 we are able to determine the location of these calls in the event that the caller is unable to provide location information. If these calls are determined to be legitimate calls for service their status is then changed to reflect the nature of that incident. It is notable that there was a decrease, which is most likely attributed to an increased familiarly with personal devices and the various apps and features which can trigger unintentional 911 call.

         Following 911 hang ups is the category of “Citizen Assist” which account for 366 which is up from 299 calls the previous year. These calls range in nature from assisting people who have locked themselves out of their homes to assisting with civil matters where law enforcement is asked to be present during a volatile situation.

        The next two that I will cover came in with very close numbers. “Welfare Checks” at 294, down from 335 and “Suspicious Activity” at 251 which is down from 296 in 2021. Actually, these two are very similar in that the caller is concerned about the activity of either someone they know and would like them checked on or someone they do not know and want us to investigate. In either circumstance these again are very important calls and show that our community is involved in the well-being and security of their community.

         Another category of calls we have seen an increase in are the “Animal Problem” at 282 which is almost exactly the number from the previous year at 286. These are unfortunate situations which typically result from the actual or perceived lack of care that an animal is receiving or the lack of control that an animal owner is maintaining over their pets. These types of calls can be easily reduced by those of us who own pets being a more attentive and responsible pet owner.

       “Traffic Offenses” are next with 299 this past year, up from 273 calls in 2021. These types of calls have been on the increase since the advent of cell phones as members of our community serve as an extra set of eyes out on the roads. These calls are greatly appreciated and send a clear message that we are all holding each other accountable as motorists. We would just ask that if you do call in a traffic offense to do it in a safe manner that does not jeopardize your own safety or cause you to be distracted from your own driving.

       If you have any questions on any information I have provided, please feel free to reach out to me. There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing information about the amazing work that is done here at the Sheriff’s Department.

        I hope this information has been helpful, and I look forward to covering the operational overview of our Jail in next week’s article.

 

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