North island residents have even longer wait for sheriff
North barrier island residents who call 911 for help wait an average of almost 13 minutes for a deputy to arrive on scene after an operator dispatches a sheriff’s car, a review of hundreds of pages of records reveals.
When the average elapsed time from the moment a call comes in until a deputy is dispatched is added in, north island residents seeking help wait more than 17 minutes on average for a Sheriff’s car to appear.
Vero Beach 32963’s findings – based on a random sampling of two months of Indian River County Sheriff’s Office records – follows our story last week reporting that the average response time for deputies to get to a top priority call from the southern end of the island was more than double the six minutes claimed by Sheriff Deryl Loar.
As it turns out, sheriff’s office response times for priority 1 calls in the northern part of the island – extending from the Island Club all the way to the Sebastian inlet – were typically a minute and a half longer than for calls from the southern part of the island extending from Castaway Cove to Round Island Park.
When one resident of the northern part of the barrier island made a priority one call in July 2012, no car was even dispatched for 56 minutes. The deputy did not arrive at the scene for another 31 minutes, nearly an hour and a half after the resident dialed 911. The sheriff’s department blacked out the address, but records indicate the call was for “a suspicious incident.”
On another occasion that July, a deputy was not dispatched for 48 minutes in response to a priority 1 call, finally pulling up at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort 13 minutes later, more than an hour after the 911 call was made.
North island resident Cheryl Kippes thinks Loar just picked a number from the air when he was asked at a meeting at The Moorings in April about response times. Loar said six minutes, and a top aide, Jeff Luther, subsequently said four minutes.
“That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever heard,” said Kippes, who lives about eight miles north of the Wabasso causeway near Ambersand Beach Park and has herself called 911 to report people in the park when it is supposed to be closed, people smashing beer bottles and public nudity. “That is just laughable. I’ve never seen them in six minutes. I’d be lucky to see them in 30 minutes as it is usually more likely an hour.”
If 30 minutes is lucky, Kippes struck it rich one day last July when she called 911 to report someone trespassing on her property. That time, it only took a deputy 17 minutes to reach her home.
Kippes said the deputies who respond are professional. She said her biggest problem is with the sheriff and his claims of short response times. “I wish Indian River Shores would come out here and take care of the north barrier island,” she said. “They do a good job patrolling the area.”
The chance of Indian River Shores expanding its patrolling northward is unlikely.
The idea of a slight expansion was floated by former Indian River Shores Town Manager Richard Jefferson a year and a half ago, who at the time said his police officers could do a better job than Loar’s “non-existent” deputies. The sheriff shot back, saying his deputies are on the island 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Vero Beach 32963 reviewed sheriff patrol records last year and found deputies patrolled the island only about 80 percent of the time.
In our recent investigation of sheriff’s office response times, Vero Beach 32963 went through hundreds of pages of records, focusing on 911 calls from July 2012 and March 2013. The newspaper only counted priority 1 calls from residents. The newspaper did not consider false alarms, medical calls, fire calls or deputy-initiated calls such as traffic stops or DUI arrests.
In its review for the northern part of the barrier island, the newspaper found:
▪ The combined average time from a call to a deputy’s arrival was 17.23 minutes for the northern portion of the barrier island. The dispatch to arrival figure – 12.55 minutes – is 1½ minutes longer than the average response time for the south barrier island for the same two-month period.
Of 68 priority one calls, only 11 patrol cars arrived on the scene in the four-to six-minute window touted by Loar and Luther. In three cases, it took more than 30 minutes for a deputy to arrive and in 11 cases it took 20 or more minutes.
▪ Of the 34 priority one calls reviewed for July 2012, the average time for a deputy to arrive after being dispatched was 13.05 minutes.
Of those calls, the average lag time between the call coming in and the dispatch of a deputy was 5:29 minutes.
▪ Of the 34 priority one calls reviewed for March, the average response time from dispatch to arrival on the north barrier island was 12:05 minutes. Of those calls, the average lag time between the call and dispatch of a deputy to the scene was 4:05 minutes.
Neither Loar nor Luther responded when asked to comment on the newspaper’s findings.