Thursday, April 14, 2011

911 or 311: Which Number to Call?

If you're wondering whether to call 311 or 911 for what might not be quite an emergency, such as a neighbor's non-stop barking dog that's keeping you awake, or a truck that's blocking traffic, the answer is: Call 911. If the problem is one that requires the police, 911 is the number to call. For city services, such as missed trash pickups, call 311. Here is what the police have to say about that, and their thoughts should dispel any hesitation on your part about what number to call:
911 and 311 calls are answered by civilian dispatchers, housed at the Office of Unified Communications. These trained call takers are receiving and dispatching calls for police, fire, ambulance and city services. When you need police dispatched to an area (emergency or non-emergency, ALWAYS call 911). Some people hesitate to dial 911 if they feel it is not an emergency, but rules have changed and they are designed to save lives. Sometimes a non-emergency can turn into an emergency. It is best to follow these instructions and let the dispatcher guide you from there.
And a guide from the city:

Call 911
(if you want police, fire or emergency medical services to respond to a location)
  • Any crimes in progress (or just occurred), especially if the suspect is still on the scene 
  • Serious violent crimes such as homicide, robbery, domestic violence and assault 
  • Fire/medical emergencies 
  • Gunshots or a person with a gun or other dangerous weapon
  • Home/business intruders 
  • Vehicle crashes with personal injury, major property damage or traffic tie-ups 
  • Illegally parked cars that are blocking traffic
  • Or if you see a criminal you know is wanted by the police
Call 311
(for city services and police matters that do not require police to respond to a location)
  • Property crimes no longer in progress, such as vandalism, thefts, graffiti, stolen autos and garage burglaries 
  • Abandoned autos 
  • Illegally parked vehicles, vehicles blocking driveways 
  • MPD phone numbers and addresses
  • All other city services, such as Public Works, Motor Vehicles, Human Services, and the Mayor’s Office
  • Trash pick up problems
  • City agency phone numbers, addresses and hours of operations
  • Potholes

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