Mississippi callers having to wait when calling 911. One city short seven dispatchers.

Published 11:37 am Thursday, May 6, 2021

Low pay and high stress are contributing to a shortage of 911 operators in Jackson and other cities across the nation, authorities said.

The situation has led to concerns that public safety is at risk, WAPT-TV reported.

Malcolm Johnson said he tried to get help for a woman when a man tried to rob her at a Jackson fast-food restaurant, he told the Jackson TV station. Johnson said he couldn’t get anyone to pick up the phone. He said he let it ring for 45 seconds and then ended the call because he thought he had called the wrong 911.

The Public Safety Communication Center in Jackson is down seven dispatchers, Jackson police Deputy Chief Tyrone Buckley said. That means people might not get a dispatcher as fast as they once did, he said.

Buckley said it’s a low-paying, high-stress job with a high turnover rate. The agency is working to raise starting pay, which is less than $12 an hour, he said.