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Managing Calls to the Police with 911/311 Systems

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2005
15 pages
This study examined the effectiveness of 311 nonemergency call systems in reducing the amount of nonemergency calls to 911 operators and in providing officers more discretionary time.
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. The current study evaluated the effectiveness of Baltimore’s 311 nonemergency call system in reducing the response burden on police and improving the quality of policing in the city. The results indicated a 34 percent total reduction in calls to 911 and widespread community acceptance of 311 as an alternative, nonemergency number. Moreover, the overall response burden on Baltimore police officers was reduced and citizen use and satisfaction with the 311 system was high. Implementing a nonemergency 311 call system appears to be an appropriate and effective way to reduce the volume of 911 calls. The paper offers tips on implementing a 311 system, including the importance of advertising the system and carefully monitoring caller satisfaction. Exhibit, notes

Date Published: February 1, 2005