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Calling 311: Guidelines for Policymakers

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2005
7 pages
This booklet provides guidelines to policymakers considering implementing nonemergency 311 call systems.
Nonemergency calls to emergency 911 call systems have overloaded technical and human police capacity across the United States. In response, many jurisdictions have implemented nonemergency 311 call systems; calls can instantaneously be switched between 311 and 911 call centers to facilitate prompt and appropriate response. Recent studies have shown the effectiveness of 311 call systems in reducing the amount of nonemergency calls to 911 operators and in improving the quality of policing in terms of more appropriate responses to citizen complaints. Some of the considerations for policymakers interested in implementing a 311 system are that such systems are expensive and complex to maintain; technological considerations are briefly outlined and the issue of caller identification versus anonymity is discussed. However, 311 systems have the potential to facilitate and greatly improve community-oriented policing by contributing important data on crime and complaint patterns in cities. Additionally, citizens in Baltimore overwhelmingly approved of and used the 311 system, making it a good bet that such a system has the potential to be embraced in all communities. Notes

Date Published: February 1, 2005