Re: 9-1-1 used for other than emergent calls?
From: Roxanna McGinnis
Date: 02 Jun 1997
Remote Name: 184.108.40.206
Bob, I just noticed you hadn’t heard from any dispatch centersthat actually do promote non-emergent use of 9-1-1. I work at theMissoula, MT 9-1-1 center, where 9-1-1 is the only number to callwhen someone wants to speak to an officer for any reason. Thereasoning behind this was that when 9-1-1 was new (back in 1976),they wanted people to get into the habit of calling 9-1-1 ratherthan seven-digit numbers. The population of our county has nearlydoubled since then, and in the opinion of many who work here, thenon-emergent use has gotten out of hand. People need to call9-1-1 to report abandoned vehicles, found property, or to requestVIN inspections of vehicles. We have learned to prioritze quitewell, and none of our dispatchers hesitate to put a non-emergentcall on hold, but it can still cause problems. Although I don’tbelieve we have ever run out of trunk lines, in the busiest timesit becomes nearly impossible for call-takers to handle thevolume, and sometimes more emergent calls have to be put on holdto answer a 9-1-1 line that turns out to be a case ofnot-in-progress verbal harrassment involving the complainant’s10-year old neighbor. This causes a great deal of frustration fordispatchers. Our area is growing very fast, and I believe itwon’t be more than a few years before each agency will have toimplement a non-emergency number. My fear is that at that time itwill be difficult to wean the public off the habit of dialling9-1-1 for everything, which they have been able to do for morethan 20 years.