03/06/2012 11:34 am ET

Detroit Police Roll Out Emergency Response, 911 Protocols

Detroit Police are reorganizing the way they respond to emergency calls with a new Telephone Crime Reporting Unit that will allow officers to prioritize the most urgent calls.

According to the department, the new system will enable officers out on patrol to deal with immediate threats more rapidly by minimizing their responses to non-emergency requests.

The reorganization follows Chief Ralph Godbee's "virtual precincts" effort, announced in January, that aims to improve police response times and put more officers out in the field.

The department hopes to redirect about 40 percent of lower-priority 911 calls to the new unit, where they will be handled by limited duty officers and civilian personnel.

The new system will rank the importance of calls based on several factors:

Priority 1 calls will involve emergency situations that are still in progress; where a perpetrator is on the scene; where emergency medical service is needed; and where the preservation of evidence is of an urgent nature.

Priority 2 calls will deal with serious problems that have happened more than 15 minutes before the call was made; where the perpetrator is still on the scene; where apprehension may be high or low; and where the preservation of evidence is urgent.

Priority 3 calls are those that are not serious in nature; where the perpetrator is still on the scene; and where an incident happened less than 15 minutes before the call.

Priority 4 calls involve non-serious situations where the perpetrator is non longer on the scene; where the likelihood of apprehension is low; and where an incident occurred more than 15 minutes before.

Priority 5 calls are similar to the previous ranking, but involve situations where damage or loss is less than $10,000.

Patrol officers will be dispatched to priority 1-4 calls as needed and the new telephone-based unit will handle priority 4-5 calls.

Under the "virtual precincts" system put in place in January, brick-and-mortar city police precincts are now closed between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. Crimes that happen during those times must be reported through a telephone call center.

The new arrangement has eliminated some desk jobs, but the department says it has reassigned more than 100 officers to patrol city streets.