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Issues in Managing Citizens' Calls to the Police

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: November 2002 Pages: 125-128
Leslie W. Kennedy
Date Published
November 2002
4 pages
This paper offers a discussion about how police respond to 9-1-1 citizen calls.
The author explains that there have been some recent criticisms of the 9-1-1 emergency call system. The main problem with the system is that it is overloaded with calls from citizens, many of them not classified as emergency situations. In response, there has been a movement to implement a nonemergency call system such as 3-1-1. Such a system relies on citizens to accurately assess the level of emergency before making the call. The author discusses several issues that emerge when alternatives to the 9-1-1 call system are proposed. One issue is the argument that police have a duty to respond to all citizen calls for help, regardless of the severity. A second issue involves whether police are selectively attending to certain groups of victims while responding more slowly to other groups of victims. The author also discusses the fact that police agencies should consider the technological advancements that are likely to result in new crimes being called in for police assistance. Finally, the author contends that even where 3-1-1 nonemergency call systems are implemented, the workload of police will continue to grow as police are forced to assimilate new initiatives aimed at reducing the threat of terrorism.