MASSAPEQUA - A Seaford man dialed 911 to report a bank robbery in Massapequa Sunday, but says he ended up on hold while the suspects escaped.
James Breidenbach, 54, says he called when he saw two armed, masked men walk into a TD Bank, but by time the operator answered, the men had departed.
"As they were going in, I saw a guy pull a gun out of his pocket," Breidenbach says.
Breidenbach showed News 12 his cellphone, which recorded a duration of around 4 minutes for the 911 call. He says that he was on hold for three of those minutes.
Nassau County police say their records show Breidenbach was on hold for 1 minute, 20 seconds, which is still longer than 96 percent of 911 calls that get answered in less than 10 seconds.
News 12 spoke to Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter last month about other 911 callers who complained that they were placed on hold during emergencies. He said then that staffing at the 911 Call Center was sufficient.
On Sunday, around the time of the TD robbery, police say 911 received 28 calls, with nine operators answering. Krumpter says that staffing was sufficient, and that the delay stemmed from two emergencies going on at the same time.
But the union representing the 911 operators says they are dangerously understaffed.
"They're playing with people's lives here, and it's not right," says Jerry Laricchiuta, the union president.