RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmonders in trouble may find themselves on hold with 911, thanks to persistent staffing shortages in the city.

Among the causes, according to city officials, are COVID, civil unrest, and career changes. Out of 72 dispatcher positions, only 39 are currently filled. That’s a steep drop from last November when 55 dispatcher positions were filled.

Communications and marketing analyst Karen Gill tells 8News the department
is doing everything it can to hire more staff.

“We’re working with our human resources department to ensure we have the proper salary for starting employees and possibly be able to raise that and get more staff,” Gill said.

According to Gill, the short staffing hasn’t caused serious issues, such as failure to dispatch a call for service. She also said all calls are being answered — but sometimes it might take longer than expected.

“When more calls come in then we have call takers to answer, people will get a recording that asks them to stay on the line in the order it was received,” she said.

The department’s current staff is working overtime, and Gill said additional staff comes in when there’s a high call volume.