CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge resident, Theresa Stafford, took the podium during a Dorchester County Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 6, to make known her concerns regarding repeated delays in the Cambridge Police Department’s emergency response time.
Stafford told the council she’s called the city police to report the activity of a group of persistent loiterers on multiple occasions. She said, after the calls, there’s a “10- to 15-minute lag time” between when she reaches out and when the dispatched officers arrive.
Stafford said the Cambridge Police Department has told her the group, which hangs out in the 600 block of Greenwood Avenue, is “pretty dangerous.” She said they often are loitering there between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The group’s presence, she said, sometimes prevents residents from being able to access their apartments.
She quoted a corporal, who she didn’t name but said is a department supervisor, as saying, “Ma’am, I’m gonna advise you that the people you’re dealing with are pretty dangerous, and if you cause them to have to move their business, they may retaliate.”
“So you’re telling me that [the police] know there is a dangerous group of people that hangs out on that property, yet there’s this 10- or 15-minute lag time before you send a police officer?” Stafford said to the council. “I would hate for someone to get hurt, including me, because there’s this lag time.”
Stafford said Cambridge police blamed its delayed response time on the county. She said CPD told her all 911 calls go through a system that’s monitored by the county.
The city police told Stafford to address her concerns at the county level, she said, because “[the city police] can only respond when they’re told to respond.”
CPD Public Information Officer Capt. Justin Todd confirmed the county’s 911 call system is responsible for dispatching calls to the Cambridge police.
Todd said CPD’s city-owned dispatchers, which once operated out of their office, were replaced a few years ago by Dorchester County dispatchers in the county’s 911 center.
The change was made as an agreement between the city of Cambridge and Dorchester County, but Todd said he didn’t know why exactly.
As for the delayed response times, Todd said CPD is not apprised of such lag times.
“We just get the calls, and when we gets the calls, the officers get dispatched to them,” he said.
County Manager Keith Adkins gave Stafford his business card after her remarks at the council meeting and said, “Any time you have an issue, call me.”
Adkins also requested Stafford provide him dates and times of each call she has placed so he could check with the emergency services department.
Stafford said she hopes the issue can be addressed and resolved by the council “or whoever is in charge of making sure the dispatchers immediately dispatch somebody to that area.”