Response Time to Priority Calls

The Department of Emergency Management (DEM) and the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) report the median “Response Time” interval in minutes for Priority A, B, and C calls. This interval measures the time between when the call is received and when the first unit arrives on-scene. Calls for service that involve serious incidents are classified as "Priority A". These are emergency calls that require a rapid response because there may be an immediate threat to life or a substantial risk of major property loss or damage. Response times are summarized by priority type and month, and reported in minutes.

Police Department and Emergency Management

Data note: In December 2019, DEM and the SFPD adopted a new data system to ensure the accuracy of response time data. In this system, DEM and the SFPD jointly report Response Time as the time from when the 9-1-1 call is received by a DEM call taker to when the first officer arrives on-scene. This segment more fully reflects the experience of the citizen.

How Performance is Measured

A median is a commonly used “average,” a method to aggregate data of other important metrics, such as the median household income. A median, otherwise known as the 50th percentile, reports the response time at which exactly 50% of the data is above the reported response time and 50% is below. Median is less sensitive to extreme outliers than mean, and outliers in the dataset are most often the result of data entry error.

The figure below displays the definition of Response Time as three intervals (Intake Time + Queue Time + Travel Time) in the life of a call.

DEM 911 call response process

The table below displays how Priority A, B, and C calls are categorized with definitions and potential examples.

Emergency Priority Definitions

*Please note these are generalized examples; subtle cues or situational factors may cause the dispatcher to assign a different priority level than the one identified here. The priority level assigned by the call taker may be also changed by the dispatcher once more information becomes available.

There is no national standard for the definition, measurement, and public reporting of police response times. This is due to many factors, including variations in population, geographic size, traffic conditions, road systems between and within cities, call volume, call routing, and dispatcher and officer staffing.

The number displayed on the scorecard page represents a fiscal-year-to-date average of the chart above.


Access Scorecard data through the Law Enforcement Calls for Service Closed dataset on San Francisco's Open Data Portal. SFPD Response Time for each call is measured by subtracting the on-scene datetime from the received datetime.