The average police response time is 11 minutes, as of 2013. However, police response times can often be misleading, as there are many factors that affect the numbers, including city size and urban planning, how different police departments classify emergency situations, and whether officers report their arrival at crime scenes.
Many criminologists and law enforcement officers argue that comparing average response times between different cities is highly misleading because differences in geography can dramatically affect response time. Rural areas, for example, often average far higher response times than cities due to the increased distance between residences. Other factors completely outside of a police department’s control can also influence response time, including terrain, traffic patterns and city organization. For example, many newer suburbs and cities feature designs that offer fewer entry streets to larger neighborhoods, making it more difficult for officers to get to crime scenes.
How different police departments classify emergency calls also has a major effect on how their statistics for average response times are determined. Some departments calculate emergency response time across only a small percentage of their received calls, while other departments average a far larger portion of calls, leading to skewed numbers.
Finally, officers responding to serious emergency situations may not always report in immediately upon arriving at a crime scene. An officer may address the situation before reporting his location, leading to a misleading response time.