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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer Patrice Thomas presented a dramatic drop in 911 wait times at Tuesday’s council committee meeting.

“In December of 2015, a citizen calling 911 experienced on average almost a minute before someone answered the phone in the 911 department. That has been improved as of December 2016 down to 13.99 seconds,” Thomas said.

Officials said the average in January 2017 went down to 13.22 seconds.

In one year, city officials said they were able to lower average wait times by around 45 seconds.

They said they did it through hiring more staff.

“Developing part-time call-taking positions, anything that got bodies in the chair showed immediate improvement to bringing up the numbers,” said Mike Spencer, supervisor with Memphis Police Department communications.

Officials said they’re still 10 people away from full-staff and short of national standards.

“We’re not declaring victory,” Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan said. “We’re only 85 percent of our goal which is to answer 911 calls in 20 seconds or less.”

They said they’ll achieve that level in the next year with the help of an ordinance they hope council passes.

It would create fines for false alarms that require an emergency response.

Officials said they’d start the third time and homeowners would face a $50 fee.

In addition, they’d have to pay a recovery fee: $90 for police and $250 for fire.

Officials said more than 99 percent of their alarm calls are false.

“We are inundated with alarms. The majority of them are false. It creates a manpower resource issue as well as a financial issue,” MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall said.

“It takes resources away from everyone else,” McGowan said.

Officials said those fees would go up every year.

If it passes, the ordinance would go into effect in July, officials said.