What's the average police response time in a rural area

Hello Everyone,

Well a dull night turned into an exciting one tonight. As we were driving home about an hour ago (11pm) on a back country highway we heard a gun shot and our rear drivers side windows exploded. Apparently some moron took either a potshot at our car or was shooting something and didn’t have a proper backstop. I’m sure it was a shotgun as there were a few pellet marks in the door, thankfully it want a rifle round as my wife and two kids were in the backseat. Except for done glad and frayed nerves, everyone was okay.

What disturbed me the most was the amount if time it took for the Sheriff deputy to arrive in the scene, 45 minutes after we called 911. I realize that no one was injured, but the response tine seemed very excessive to me. I’ve heard in the city that average response tine is something like 8 minutes. Does anyone have any idea what the response time is In rural areas? I’m sure that if one of us had been hurt they would have prioritized the call and been there quickly, but i also thought that since this was a firearm related call the cops would have shown up right away.

Am I expecting too much our of local law enforcement or does living in the country mean we’ll have to rely on ourselves?

Depends on how rural, obviously. I live in Western Australia, where in the remoter parts of the state you can travel 800 km between police stations. There are probably not many places in the US where that is the case, presumably a lot will turn on the density of the population in whatever rural district you happen to be.

Where abouts did this happen?

Polk County, FL on highway 33 about 2 miles north of I 4, near Lakeland

Find out where the sheriff’s station is and see how long it takes to drive there.

I see Polk County has a population of 600,000 so it isn’t a rural county.

Fastest response time here in rural Connecticut [way east and just above centerline] is about 45 minutes for something like gunshots or a burglar onsite, if it is not emergency [like reporting a burglary where the person is not still in the house] can be several hours to the next day.

And no, I am not joking about a 24 hour response time. Our ambulance is a 45 minute to an hour response time, it is faster to get someone to drive to the nearest emergency room … which is about 20 minutes to WIllimantic and 25 minutes to Backus in Norwich.

We live 10 miles from the Sheriff’s office for the small county in which we live. If we happen to see a car from that office on our street, we immediately make sure all our doors and windows are locked, since the only reason they might be patrolling here is that they are looking for someone. I can only recall one response to a crime (someone took a new stove from a model house), but I have no idea how long it took, no more than an hour, judging by the time of day we saw the car, the time the builder arrived on scene, etc. There is a spot on one of the back streets where they can see the main road hereabouts and they sometimes sit there for whatever reason cops sit somewhere.

No, I would not wait for a bunch of EMT’s to show up if I was able to drive to the hospital, also 10 miles away.

It’s hard to estimate an average time for all rural areas because the circumstances are so variable. Our county is very large and has very few sheriff’s deputies, so response times are quite long. The next county over is also large but has more deputies because it contains a fairly large college town, so they get quicker responses.

I once came across a serious accident at 2 a.m., and even though it involved serious injuries, it took 40 minutes for the cops to arrive and an hour for the ambulance.

Keep in mind that the deputies may have already been on a call, there may only be a couple deputies working and they could have been clear across the county.
Rural response times are definitely going to be highly variable for non-emergency calls even in the same county.

I live and work in rural areas and it really depends. At home I had to call the police once. The car was coincidentally in the area anyway, and response time was under 5 minutes. A neighbor called once to report a suspicious car and the response time was infinite (no show). That night there was only one officer working and he was tied up with a car wreck.

My business is in a township without a police force. Calling the State Police gets rapid response, once they are convinced they have jurisdiction (I am near the line for a neighboring township).

Its one of those things you take into consideration when you choose where to live. If you live in a more rural area you have to realize that response by police, fire and rescue is going to be slower.

I live in New Jersey which is the most densely populated state. In the town I work in response time to hot calls is about 3-5 minutes depending on the time of day. I used to live in a rural western NJ county. My town did not have police coverage. We were covered by the State Police. I knew a couple of Troopers from that barracks. At night they sometimes had 3 cars to cover 26 towns.

In my former home I once had to call about an accident that had occurred in front of my house. I was transferred through 3 dispatchers before I reached the one who could send an officer. These are some of the issues I bring up when some complain about their taxes or services offered.

I live in a rural county in Ohio, and am good friends with one of the sheriff’s deputies. One evening while we were drinking some brewskies, my buddy confided in me that “they only had a couple deputies on the road during a typical evening shift.” I told him I was surprised by this, and he said it’s due to budget constraints. (He also said gasoline was a significant expenditure for their department. I had never considered that.) Given the size of our county, then, I would estimate it could take up to 25 minutes for a deputy to arrive at someone’s house.

Don’t feel too bad about your 45 minute response time.

When I was in college, I lived in Midtown Atlanta (i.e. I was a five minute walk from the connector, so maybe 6-7 minute walk to 20 story buildings). We had a guy with a gun come to our house demanding money from my druggie idiot roommate. A different roommate called the cops, saying “there’s a guy with a gun threatening to kill my roommate if he doesn’t get his money”. Response time from APD? 55 minutes.

Later, we heard a girl get mugged right outside our front door (maybe 30 yards away). Two of us ran to help her while a third called the cops. (She had a black eye and was shaken up but otherwise ok) Response time from APD? 1 hour 5 minutes.

Just being rural isn’t the only way to get terrible response times.

No matter where you live, you should rely on yourself for protection (self defense). As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are just minutes away (sometimes MANY minutes). But, yes, it takes on more importance when you live in a rural area.

You should also rely on yourself for emergency supplies (food and water), heat, etc.

As far as the OP’s situation, I can’t think of very many legitimate reasons to be shooting a shotgun at 11PM near a road. There are very few critters you hunt in the dark, and, in any case, you should always be aware of roads and cars. Sounds like some very dangerous fucking around. Did the police discover anything?

As a former deputy in Florida: first, I’m glad everyone is OK; I can’t imagine going through that with my family.

Second: 45 minutes is unfortunate, but not unexpected. There were times - day and night shifts - where I alone was responsible for about 50 square miles. Granted, the bulk was rural, but incidents can happen anywhere in that 50 square miles. Travel time is part of it (and there is seldom a direct line from point A to B in the country), but made worse if I happen to be on another call that I can’t immediately terminate.

Even, in the city, police response times can be very long. About 2 years ago, my girlfriend and I returned home to find our next door neighbors door open - obviously kicked in, the door jamb was destroyed - and the alarm going off. I was living in a side-by-side style condo where our two homes shared a common porch from the street.

I called 911 and reported that there was a breakin in my neighbors house. After calling, I went and grabbed my handgun and (stupidly) decided to go into the house and see if the burglars were still inside. As I entered the front door, I yelled out that I was armed and coming inside. As I was in the entryway, I saw someone run out the back of the house and through the garage. Coming to my senses, I called 911 again and told them that the burglary was in progress, that I was armed and the suspect had just run out the back, giving them as good a description as I could.

Almost an hour and half later, a squad car finally shows up. Mind you, I was living about 6 blocks away from downtown Milwaukee and less than a mile from a police station. They just took my statement, called the alarm company to turn off the alarm, and told me that they would let me know if anything turned up.

An hour and half response time to a burglary in progress would be a fairly high priority call, I would think, but apparently not…

In fact while I’m not sure about Polk County in particular I know there are towns in that area that do not have someone on duty 24 hours a day. There was an article about that in the Gainesville Sun a few years back. In those places an emergency call means getting someone out of bed to answer it.

Several years ago in lived in a fairly rural area and, at night, there were two sheriff’s deputies for, probably, 100 square miles (much of it was uninhabitable, but the drive time from one end of the zone to the other was easily an hour). Your response time depended entirely on where they were (and what they were doing) when you called.

The other thing I noticed was that the deputies were really jumpy. I figured it was because “backup” out there was when some guy on the day shift began wondering why you never clocked out.

This morning I talked to the Sergant that was at the scene last night. He confirmed that it was indeed a busy night and that they put my call off since no one was injured. What concerned me however is that he told me that they only have 6 deputies in the entire county on most nights. That is a ton of area to cover with only six people. That would have to bother even the Police, if you need backup, it might take twenty minutes in drive time alone to get there.

Granted, I guess my biggest concern would be the response time of EMS. It might take the entire “Golden Hour” for them to reach us out here.

We were somewhat aware of the slower than average response times when we got insurance on the house. Because of the distance to the nearest station (14 miles) our insurance is higher.

That’s just plain disgusting there. You would hope that with an active criminal in your home you would be up on the priority list.

I agree with you 100%. Like I said, EMS would be by main concern. As far as home defense, we are quite well set. If an intruder makes it past the donkeys and the dogs (especially Gunner the Great Dane) he’ll be greeted with enough lead to last a lifetime. We are well armed here, hopefully I’ll never have to use any of our weapons for anything other than stopping the hoards of Taliban soda cans that populate our local shooting spot, but I’m willing to do so if the need arises.

I think that it was some teens playing with a gun. The reason I think that is that as we drove by a house we heard and saw the flash of the gun followed by the window shattering. I continued on about a half mile before pulling over to the side of the road. After making sure that no one in the car was hit I started looking around. The house where we think the gun shot came from suddenly got very dark and two vehicles left in a hurry.

The deputy was very concerned about the situation and went to the home, but of course they were long gone by that time. He told me that a detective would be following up and that if they could find the shooter that they would be facing several felony charges. With that being said, I don’t think that there is much chance of an arrest happening. We didn’t catch them in the act so unless someone confesses there isn’t any way to find out who did it. Hopefully a visit by the Police will convince the person that is responsible that shooting at or in the direction of traffic isn’t a good idea. I have to think that whoever did it doesn’t realize how dangerous the game they are playing is. I’m just thankful that my family wasn’t injured. The glass will wash out of the hair and the fright was short lived.

The population numbers you are seeing aren’t a true representation of the County. There is a few large cities in the County, one is Winter Haven and the other is Lakeland. Lakeland is like any other major city in people are crammed in as tight as you can get them. Most of Polk however is like where we live, acreage communities where the average home sits on about 5 acres and 100+ acre homesites aren’t unusual.