MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police leaders say they are working to reduce response times by hiring more officers.

A recent WREG investigation found several crime victims who said they’d waited for hours for officers to arrive.

Memphis City Council members said Tuesday they’d received feedback from constituents on police wait times, leading them to ask MPD leaders to address the issue.

“The solution to call response time is more officers on the street,” Assistant Chief Don Crowe told city council. The city’s website says MPD is 350 officers short of its goal of 2,300 officers.

More cars help, too. MPD leaders said they’re still waiting on manufacturers to deliver vehicles that were ordered in 2021.

The city of Memphis stretches across more than 300 square miles, about the size of New York City, Crowe said. But New York is patrolled by 35,000 police officers, while Memphis has a little under 2,000.

Those Memphis officers have responded to 419,604 calls for service so far in 2023, an increase of 16% over the year before, according to information presented by MPD Tuesday.

Response time for Priority Zero calls — the highest priority, for events that are in progress — are averaging 7.16 minutes this year. That’s shorter than the 8-minute response time in 2022, though longer than the 6.5-minute response time of 2018.

That includes the time callers spend on the phone with dispatcher.

“Our dispatchers are like air traffic controllers trying to manage the calls,” Crowe said.