ONLY ON 3: How you can help police get to you faster in an emerg - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ONLY ON 3: How you can help police get to you faster in an emergency

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

If your car is broken into, home burglarized or wallet stolen, it can take 20 minutes for a police officer to show up.

The Chattanooga Police Department says it is working to shorten to wait. In the meantime, there are things you can do to cut down the time you're waiting for help.

When assigned to a sector, it doesn't take Chattanooga Police Department Sergeant Joe Shaw long to memorize the area.

READ MORE | Channel 3 investigates police response times

Chattanooga has three sectors, divided in seven zones.

“They get to know that like the back of their hand, like you're saying. They know where every street is—Every block number they can go straight to,” Sgt. Shaw said.

A Channel 3 investigation uncovered, on average, it takes officers about three minutes to respond to high priority calls, things like shootings.

It takes six times longer to get to lower priority calls, like a car break-in.

Sgt. Shaw says he understands for the victim of any crime, minutes feel like hours.

“I can understand a citizen getting a little frustrated if it takes a period of time for an officer to arrive to take a report,” he added.

When you call 9-1-1, it doesn't mean you are the first stop for the officer.

Assistant Chief over Neighborhood Policing, Eric Tucker says if that officer gets a higher priority call on the way, he will go there first.

“They will often divert themselves and get in route or the dispatcher will divert them if they're close,” Tucker said.

The first priority for you just became a lower priority for that officer.

“We have to do that to use the resources and manpower that we do have,” Sgt. Shaw added.

Each year, Chattanooga police officers answer an average of 218,000 calls for service.

With a sworn police force of 413, that means an officer can answer about 528 calls a year.

Sgt. Shaw says call volume, bad traffic and calls outside of an officer's sector can lag response time.

“If someone is sent to an area that they aren't familiar with, they may not know the fastest way to get there and if there are street signs and such missing, that can slow down response time,” he added.

Chattanooga police recently added three more crime analysts. They use data to put officers where police anticipate crimes.

The idea is to cut down on crime and the time it takes officers to respond to them, whether they are high priority calls or less urgent calls.

Police say there are things you can do to help them reach your faster.

When you're driving, move over to the far right lane when you see a first responder with lights and sirens.

You can also make sure your house number is clearly marked outside of your home and can be seen from the street.

Also, trim away any bushes or small trees that are blocking road signs.

They may sound like small things, but officers say they go a long way.

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