In Austin, Texas, police are now urging people to call 311 instead of 911 to report non-emergency matters, authorities said.
Beginning Friday, residents of the city are asked to use 311 when reporting crimes that do not occur, when a suspected person is out of place, or when there is no immediate threat to life or property, according to the Austin Police Department.
“Please understand, if anyone is in danger, we are still going to send a team set up with official uniforms to conduct themselves,” police chief Joseph Chacon explained Wednesday, according to KXAN-TV. “But for cases that may have already occurred and are being reported, we are looking at alternatives, and that is what we are working on right now.”
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Chacon said the changes come amid recent staffing problems, taking into account the incentives of social security workers, and its review of their rotation COVID-19 control protocols, which began in May 2020.
The department has said it is trying to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure to the public by sworn police, who will not respond to non-emergency measures, FOX 7 Austin reported.
“I feel that, in many areas, not only in our offices on the street, but with our criminal staff in forensics and in our Austin 311 call center, we are experiencing a shortage of staff, and, therefore, I think I am a little patient. “People usually have to wait and call 311 for this order,” said the chief.
“If a police officer is not wanted, in other words, this is a clear crime that has already been committed, and we can get a forensic expert to take pictures, to be able to gather evidence and to make a case.” number and tracking system for the victim, then it may be the appropriate course of action, to ensure that I can release my officers to continue responding to emergency calls where we are guilty of violence. and people are committing criminal acts, ”he added.
Crimes that could be considered non-urgent include theft, suspicion or suspicion of a motor vehicle, identity theft, prostitution, animal activities, and theft of a house, business, or car, police said.
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“Again, if anyone is in the process, and there is a threat to public safety, then a call to 911 is appropriate, and we will send an official,” Chacon said.
A month ago, a North Carolina man said his daughter was in Austin for a bachelorette party with friends when their rented house was broken into, KXAN-TV reported.
“They proceeded to call the police and were sent to 311, who ordered them to start an online report. And no law enforcement officer arrived at the scene,” explained Darin Short.
After hearing a few weeks later, he said he received a call Wednesday afternoon saying the officer should speak to them within 48 hours, according to the station.
Reports compiled by 311, or online at reportaustin.com, are still being distributed to investigators – and detectives will follow them if they can, Chacon said.
He added that a non-emergency response could be assessed if the department was able to fill the vacancies.
“We will be seeking advice in the area from local authorities, from the local council, from several communities in the coming months to see if they need to be assigned to these police services, and then we will be able to see why.” We need a lot of offices, ”Chacon said.
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If anyone is unsure if the real call is an emergency, they should call 911, said the official.