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Managing Citizen Calls to the Police: An Assessment of Non-Emergency Call Systems

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2001
310 pages
This document discusses the handling of non-emergency calls for police service.
Technological and operational approaches to handling non-emergency calls for police service were compared and contrasted in Baltimore, Maryland and Dallas, Texas. The impact of implementing these call systems on the quality and quantity of policing in Baltimore and Dallas was examined. An in-depth analytic assessment of the Baltimore and Dallas 3-1-1 systems was provided, exploring police and stakeholder perceptions, citizen satisfaction, and changes in the nature and quantity of 3-1-1 and 9-1-1 calls over time. An interrupted time series analysis Baltimore data revealed a large and statistically significant reduction of nearly 5,000 9-1-1 calls per week (25 percent reduction) that can be directly attributable to the introduction of the 3-1-1 call system. Some categories of citizen complaints migrated in large numbers from the 9-1-1 system to the 3-1-1 system, such as larceny, parking, loud noise, destruction of property, gambling and suspicious persons. The analysis of the Dallas call handling system shows that the 3-1-1 non-emergency call system had very little impact on police officers, and did not change the manner in which police-related calls for service were dispatched to the police. Overall, it was concluded that a “split-force” approach to handling non-emergency calls could be tested in conjunction with the implementation of a 3-1-1 non-emergency call taking systems. Using 3-1-1 systems to implement dual 9-1-1/3-1-1 call handling systems is recommended. Calls made to the 9-1-1 system should be treated differently to calls placed to the 3-1-1 system. Only the most obvious emergencies that are placed to the 3-1-1 call system should be dispatched. It is suggested that 3-1-1 calls be diverted to patrol units that do not receive dispatched calls and are free to handle 3-1-1 calls using a problem-oriented policing approach. 12 figures, 85 tables, 10 appendixes, references

Date Published: October 1, 2001