Austin, Texas, police are now urging the public to call 311 instead of 911 to avoid an emergency.
According to Austin police, since Friday, city residents have been asked to use 3111 when reporting crimes that may no longer be in process, when the suspect is no longer at the scene, or when there is no immediate threat to life or property.
According to KXAN-TV, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon explained Wednesday, “Please understand, if anyone is in danger, we are still going to send a marked unit and a uniformed officer to identify it.” “But for crimes that have already happened and are now being reported, we are looking at alternative measures, and that is what we are working on now.”
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Chacon said there have been changes in recent staff challenges, a review of the Public Safety Task Force’s recommendations, and a review of its patrol COVID-19 mitigation protocol, which began in May 2020.
The department said it was trying to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure for the public and sworn police officers who would no longer respond to those urgent calls, Fox 7 Austin reported.
“I think, in many areas, obviously not among our sworn officers on the street, with forensics and our property crime technicians at our Austin 311 call center, we’re missing staff, and so, I think I’m going to ask for a little patience.” “People have to wait a long time to call 311 to make this report,” said the interim chief.
“If an officer is not necessarily needed, in other words, it is a crime that has already been committed, and we can still get a property crime technician there to take pictures, collect evidence and file a lawsuit to track the number and the victim of a crime.” One way, then, would be the most appropriate way, in fact, to manage it so that I can free my officers to answer emergency calls to services where we have violent crime. And those who are actively involved in criminal activity, “he added.
Crimes that may be considered unnecessary include theft, theft of suspicious persons or vehicles, verbal disputes, prostitution, animal service and housing, business or vehicle theft.
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“Again, if anyone on that list is still in progress, and there is an immediate threat to public safety, it is appropriate to call 911, and we will send an officer,” Chacon noted.
Last month, a man in North Carolina said his daughter was in Austin for a bachelor party with friends when the house they rented was stolen, KXAN-TV reported.
Darren Short explains, “They called the police and were sent to 3111, who instructed them to start an online report.
After not listening for weeks, he said they received a phone call Wednesday afternoon saying an officer had to contact them within 48 hours.
Checks said reports collected at 311 or online ireportaustin.com will still be given to investigators – and detectives will follow them when they are able to do so.
He added that non-emergency response could be re-evaluated if the department is able to fill the vacancy.
“Next month we are going to seek input from our community stakeholders, from the city council, from community members in this area, to see how they want to provide these police services, and then we will be able to determine how many officers we really need. , ”Chacon said.
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If one is not sure whether a specific call is urgent, they should still call 911, the chief noted.