Concerning encounter on Jersey City sidewalk spotlights potential issues with 911 dispatch system

New Jersey

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Residents in Jersey City say reaching emergency services in the city is a problematic process, and emergencies worth dialing 911 over shouldn’t be taken lightly.

What would it mean if you picked up the phone during a moment of crisis and dialed 911 — what’s supposed to be one of the most important numbers we could think of in any situation — and no one was there to answer your call?

There’s buzz about a potential problem with the 911 dispatch system in Jersey City, where most recently, a resident saw a bloodied elderly man down on his knees on the sidewalk being harassed, surrounded by young men.

In the video, obtained by PIX11, it’s unclear if the men in this video were doing the harassing, or helping him up after the fact.

The eyewitness who recorded that video wants to remain anonymous, but that person relayed their concerning experience with Jersey City’s 911 system to local Jersey City journalist, Aaron Morrill, publisher of the Jersey City Times, who explained the concerning events that happened after the video was taken.

“They had seen an elderly man on the street, on his knees, bleeding,” Morrill said. “They had called 911 — not gotten and answer. It just rang and rang.”

It would appear what happened on the call to 911 after the sidewalk encounter was not an isolated incident.

Morrill posted his editorial to Facebook, where several commenters subsequently recalled experiencing delayed pickups, or no pickup at all, after calling for emergency help.

PIX11 asked Jersey City Councilman James Solomon if he thought there is reason to be concerned about the 911 system.

“Yes,” he said. “I have gotten anecdotal reports from constituents saying, ‘I have called the 911 system, it took a long time to get an answer.’ Now my job is to then request the data to see how systemic the problem is.”

A spokesperson for the city said, “…the JCPD is looking into the matter to ensure proper protocols are followed. The fact is, Jersey City’s emergency response times are among the best in the nation as a result of multiple strategies identified and enacted by this administration…”

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