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What phone number do use to reach the police in a non-emergency?
August 23, 2009 7:25 AM   Subscribe

When you need to call the police, but it isn't an emergency, what phone number do you call? 911? (U.S.)

Example: Fender bender. No one is hurt, but you want to call the police to report the accident. Do you call 911? You don't know the number for the actual police department.
posted by TSGlenn to Law & Government (56 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
411. They will connect you to the non-emergency number.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:26 AM on August 23, 2009


You call 911 and explain the situation. They don't just send the cavalry out to every caller; they'll triage your call appropriately.
posted by mhoye at 7:29 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Los Angeles, there is a 311 system to handle non-emergency services.
posted by dogwelder at 7:31 AM on August 23, 2009


311 is the number where I am. They will route you to 911 if they think it's more appropriate, which it sometimes is in those situations.
posted by ishotjr at 7:32 AM on August 23, 2009


911 really should only be called for a real emergency. If there is no 311 system or equivalent in your locality, then 411 is the way to go. Ask for "police non-emergency" or "police dispatch."
posted by The Deej at 7:36 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This varies by locality, and not all localities have a separate non-emergency number. For instance in Baltimore I think you can get the police with 311, which is fairly common. Try googling police non-emergency plus your location.
posted by advil at 7:36 AM on August 23, 2009


more info on 311.
posted by advil at 7:38 AM on August 23, 2009




In cases when I was in an unfamiliar place, unsure of what do to, or blocking traffic, etc., 911 is totally appropriate; somebody doesn't need to be dying, you just need help and are unable to handle the situation without police assistance. I had a fender bender in an unfamiliar town several states away from home, so I called 911, cop came out & took everybody's information, and nobody sent me a warning for misusing 911. Wifey had a blow-out on the freeway in the middle of nowhere, very late at night, and couldn't get the tire changed herself - called 911, they said they could either send a sheriff, or give her a number for a towing company. In both cases, they probably would have preferred we used the non-emergency number, but nobody corrected us for using 911, the 911 people all handled their end in a way that would indicate it was a commonplace task for them, and neither required medical care or guns drawn.

We recently found a friendly stray dog, and in the new phone books, in the front cover, they list the police phone number as 911. The non-emergency number was found in the white pages, under the city name, and looking down the long list of departments. That number is for checking on how to renew bike licenses, how to get a permit for a street party, finding out where to pay parking tickets, etc; if you need an officer to come see you, now or in the near future, 911 is the correct number.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:47 AM on August 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's okay to call 911 if you don't know, at least where I've lived. When I've tried other numbers to report non-emergencies, I've been re-directed to 911. This is the only way to dispatch a cop in some areas.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:54 AM on August 23, 2009


With all due respect to the posters who are saying things like "911 is totally appropriate" or "it's okay to call 911 if you don't know, at least where I've lived":

911 is for emergencies. If you do not know for sure that it is appropriate for non-emergencies in the place that you're currently at, then it is not appropriate for a non-emergency. It is not OK for a non-emergency.

If, as you say, you weren't admonished, consider this to be an admonishment.

If, as you say, you tried another number and were redirected to 911, fine, but let the cops make that determination, not you.

Seriously, just call 311. If that fails, look up the non-emergency number in the phone book. If you don't have a phone book, call 411.

WTF.
posted by Flunkie at 8:12 AM on August 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


In a small Texas town I lived in a couple of years ago, the non-emergency police number was a regular old XXX-XXXX number. This went straight to the local police dispatcher, who apparently worked both phones and radios. If you place a 911 call, it goes to a regional 911 center operated by a council of local governments; I guess they have a computer link to the local police dispatch.

There and where I am living now, 311 still remains an exotic, untested technology.
posted by crapmatic at 8:13 AM on August 23, 2009


In NYC, you would call 911.

I had my windshield smashed overnight once (I found it in the morning). I needed a police report for my insurance, even though I didn't know who did it, what time it happened, etc. I called the local precinct and no one answered. So I called 311 to ask what I should do. They said call 911. I was all "but, no one's hurt, I have no idea who did it, I just need someone to come out to make a report." She said "I know. Call 911. That's what it's there for." I was definitely getting the vibe that she gets calls like this all day long.

Of course, NYC probably has hundreds of 911 dispatchers, so I'm sure this setup is much different in a smaller town.
posted by AlisonM at 8:28 AM on August 23, 2009


every area i've lived in usually has police non-emergency numbers listed in the front of the phone book. depending upon the size of the urban area you live in, it might be best to figure out what police district or precinct you are in, that way you are phoning the one closest to you, although typically a general, non-emergency police dispatch operator will likely ask for your address to route your call to the nearest police station.

nthing the don't call 911. it's for emergencies ONLY.
posted by kuppajava at 8:32 AM on August 23, 2009


Just to shed a little extra light on the 411/311 talk, in case you're puzzled about what 411 is doing in there.

A number of people have already fully explained that 311 is a shortcut to the emergency line in many areas but not all. 411, on the other hand, as hinted above but never explicitly explained, is the shortcut to local directory services. That's why it makes sense to try 411 if 311 doesn't work; they can tell you the correct local number to call.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:32 AM on August 23, 2009


And your carrier will likely charge you an arm and a leg each time you dial 411, FYI.
posted by nitsuj at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you have access to a phone book it will usually list both the emergency and non-emergency numbers in one of the inside covers.

The answer to this question is dependent on locale. 911 for emergencies is universal in the US, but non-emergency varies. I only know for Hawaii, where 911 is used for non-emergency calls as well, and is listed for that purpose in the phone book.
posted by Nothing at 8:47 AM on August 23, 2009


In my small town (and many others) the 911 dispatchers are the same people who answer the non-emergency lines. They don't mind if you call 911 with a legitimate police-related issue, even if it's not an emergency. As long as you're not calling with something completely inane, you'll be fine.
posted by amyms at 8:52 AM on August 23, 2009


In Pittsburgh, 911 is also for non-emergencies. We have a 311, but that's for getting information about city government, figuring out stuff like permits, and requesting things like pothole repairs. c.f.. So, advice like

nthing the don't call 911. it's for emergencies ONLY.

is simply not true everywhere.
posted by tss at 8:54 AM on August 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


An additional 911 issue: at least in the SF Bay Area, if you call 911 from a cell phone, you will get the California Highway Patrol, not the local police. That makes sense for a fender bender on the freeway, but is not as helpful if you're calling to report that the neighbors are making too much noise, or even a fender bender on city streets, both of which are better handled by the non-emergency dispatcher. I have my local non-emergency number in my cell phone for just that reason.

That said, I was once in a fender bender on the Bay Bridge (fun times!), called 911 to report it, and then we both drove off the bridge to get out of traffic. I tried to find the CHP non-emergency number to let them know where we were, couldn't find it, and ended up calling 911 again. I asked the cop when he showed up if I should have done something else, and he said it was better to call 911 back in that situation.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:01 AM on August 23, 2009


Anecdata: The couple of times I've called the non-emergency police number, The person on the other end answered as if I had dialed 911.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:05 AM on August 23, 2009


I've had various interactions over the years with emergency and 911 systems. I want to reinforce that 911 is for emergencies.
A non-emergency call to 911 takes away resources from valid emergency calls. If things are quiet this isn't a big deal, but the 911 system can be overloaded.
Here's a good rule of thumb, you should call 911 only if your call is important enough to delay emergency response to other life threatening emergencies.
posted by forforf at 9:06 AM on August 23, 2009


I agree with Flunkie--no wonder I can never get through or am placed on hold when I call 911 !!!
posted by 6:1 at 9:07 AM on August 23, 2009


I had a community police officer tell a group of us to in a neighborhood group to call 911 whenever we saw something to report, not just emergencies. He said that it was up the 911 operator to triage the severity of the call and they aren't going to send the police on an emergency call if it's not needed. But it's probably different in each municipality.
posted by octothorpe at 9:10 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


no wonder I can never get through or am placed on hold when I call 911 !!!

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the 911 system being understaffed and/or underfunded, right ???

If you're in a position to look up a better option or know of another number to call, do that. If you're not, call 911 and let them triage your call. That's their job.
posted by toomuchpete at 9:49 AM on August 23, 2009


Anecdata: The couple of times I've called the non-emergency police number, The person on the other end answered as if I had dialed 911.

It may have been the same operator, but they're likely to be trained to treat the calls coming through 911 with more urgency than the calls coming through the non-emergency number.

Here's the thing. If you know the non-emergency number for your locality, use it. If you're dealing with a serious but non-emergency situation (fender-bender, etc.), and you don't know the non-emergency number for that locality, call 911. If you're dealing with a minor situation (cat up a tree, etc.), and you don't know the non-emergency number for that locality, call directory assistance and get the non-emergency number.

If you know that that municipality wants all calls coming through 911, call 911. Use your judgment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:50 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


911 is for emergencies. If you do not know for sure that it is appropriate for non-emergencies in the place that you're currently at, then it is not appropriate for a non-emergency. It is not OK for a non-emergency.
You would think so. Several years ago a license plate was stolen from one of the flat-bed trucks at work (this was in Detroit). My boss asked me to find out where to go/what to do in order to file a police report. I called our nearest precinct, described the situation and asked what was our next step in filing a report. She replied "Call 911." I thought she'd misunderstood, so I explained that this was not really an emergency, I just wanted to report a stolen license plate. She rather irritably repeated, "Call 911. It ain't my job to take reports."
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:27 AM on August 23, 2009


Oriole Adams, as I said in the very post that you just quoted, if you called a non-emergency number and were redirected to 911, fine. But that's the cops' decision to make, not yours.
posted by Flunkie at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2009


All local police municipalities have a dispatch number for non emergencies. Generally speaking you can dial 411 and request the local city and state police dispatch number and generally they will connect you. If you have access to a phone book it will have the non emergency dispatch number prominently on the government services page. The internets generally will also lead you to the local city/state page where the non emergency number can be found pretty easily.

Do not call 911, that is not what it is for, you may be directed to the same people but it likely uses different trunk lines with different priorities on those trunks. Use 311 if they have it locally, you can also try dialing 0 for an operator who will generally be able to direct you to the local police number without a fee, I believe there is still a federal mandate that this is a non chargeable service they provide. I suspect 411 services asking for non emergency police/fire is also non chargeable, but haven't check it out.
posted by iamabot at 11:03 AM on August 23, 2009


In my smallish town the 911 operators handle everything, and are happy to take all calls.

In the really big city a mile away, sometimes people call 911 and get put on hold because the line is so over-called.

When in doubt, start with 311, the police dispatch line, directory assistance etc, and let them refer you to 911 if they want to.

Don't call 911 with a non-emergency unless you know the local policies.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2009


You call 911 and explain the situation. They don't just send the cavalry out to every caller; they'll triage your call appropriately.

Bullshit. You are potentially killing people when you call 911 with your non-emergency. The explanation for those long waits that people endure when they call 911 to report a burning house, an armed robbery in progress, or to get help for a dying loved one? It's because the operators are busy taking calls from jackasses in fender benders who think 911 operators will "triage appropriately."
posted by jayder at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, everyone who is claiming "DON'T CALL 911!!!" needs to understand that that might be true in their town, municipality, county, or whatever, but it's not true everywhere. I live in Washington, DC, the nation's capitol, and here we call 911 for all police needs, emergent or non-emergent.

On our official police listservs, the District Commanders themselves are constantly reminding people of this (despite the fact that DC's own website confuses the matter in more than a few places); I've called various other, non-911 numbers enough times to know that over the past two years, the answer has become, 100% of the time, "You don't call us for that, you call 911, and you should always call 911 in the future."

So really, take your local knowledge as just that. I have no idea what people call outside of the places I've lived, but I know for a fact that here in DC, the folks saying "don't ever call 911 if it's not life-threatening!" are just plain wrong.
posted by delfuego at 12:28 PM on August 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


And by "nation's capitol", I mean "nation's capital". Damn grammar.
posted by delfuego at 12:28 PM on August 23, 2009


You likely have extra space for phone numbers in your cell phone. Why not take the time right now to look up the non-emergency number for your local PD, and maybe even places you travel frequently, and program them into your phone? I have the number in mine.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:41 PM on August 23, 2009


Delfuego, do you have any idea why the Washington D.C. Police Department website DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS what you say here?
posted by jayder at 12:53 PM on August 23, 2009


If it's not an emergency, then you have time to call 411. If you're in a fender-bender or your car has been broken into, then the charge to have them connect you is probably the least of your worries. If you anticipate having to do this more than once every other year, you probably live in an area where the police have a website with the answer to your question.
posted by K.P. at 1:14 PM on August 23, 2009


As yet another data point, here in Seattle the city's been running a rather confusing ad campaign that I'm pretty sure is urging people to use the normal non-911 police number for non-emergencies in order to avoid clogging the 911 lines. But I have also lived in places where 911 was the single point of contact for all time-sensitive police-related matters, including things that I wouldn't consider an emergency at all (the instruction was that you should start that 911 call with "this is not an emergency", presumably so they can triage you if they're overloaded). It totally depends on your location.


As IndigoRain points out, you can easily program the local non-emergency number into your phone, and you'll have it handy if you need it. (I've had it in my phone's address book for years now but haven't had a use for it. YMMV.)
posted by hattifattener at 1:52 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, thanks for the multitude of responses, even if they completely conflict. I guess I'll have to do some more research to find out the official guidelines for my local area.
posted by TSGlenn at 2:22 PM on August 23, 2009


philadelphia: i once called my local precinct/district to report a noise complaint, because it was obviously not an emergency and i didn't want to tie up 911. the person that answered told me to call 911. to call 911 for everything.

so, there's that.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:54 PM on August 23, 2009


Don't call 411. Call 1-800-GOOG-411. Unlike 411, it's free, and as a bonus it can do neat stuff like send you a text message with a link to a map location if you ask for it.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:30 PM on August 23, 2009


In my town (suburbs, population 50,000+), 911 is the village after-hours emergency number. I came across a broken water main one night. The water department's after-hours number, according to the phone book, was 911. I've had to call them a few times, for various reasons, and it still feel wrong to call 911, so I always start with my call with "This is *not* an emergency."
posted by bentley at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2009


jayder, as best as I can tell, it's because the folks who maintain the DC website aren't the sharpest tacks in the box. Literally, there are dozens if not hundreds of posts to the various DC official MPD listservs from officers (all the way up to the commanders) explaining that 911 is the all-police-needs phone number. And as I said, I've called 311 enough times and been told that I've called the wrong number that whatever the DC website says, the practice as implemented at the call centers is that 911 is the number to call.
posted by delfuego at 6:59 PM on August 23, 2009


Please folks, isn't it obvious that the US (and yes, I live here) has not got its act together on this? It should not be this hard, it's the 21st century!!!

And for those who say just store one or more non-emergency numbers in your cell phone, do you live in some state where there are large areas covered by the same police? On the East Coast just going out to lunch I go through 3 or 4 jurisdictions, and commuting between home and work I go through two states, two Turnpike authorities, uncounted jurisdictions...even if I was willing to store that many non-emergency numbers I am not enough of a scout to know exactly which one to call.

And yes, Philadelphia (where my mother lived) told her to call 911 for non-emergencies. They did not transfer her, they told her to hang up and dial 911, so it's obviously not a different "trunk".
posted by forthright at 8:01 PM on August 23, 2009


To everyone who claims that different jurisdictions allow 911 for non-emergencies, I call bullshit. I bet no one here works in law enforcement, and definitely not any of the posters who claim that it's perfectly okay to call 911 for a non-emergency. I have worked in law enforcement for almost 9 years and let me tell you loud and clear: 911 is for emergencies only. I repeat, emergencies only. Don't make me go all CAPS on your ass.

There is no way that this varies from jurisdiction to another since 911 is a universal emergency phone number (in the US obviously). Perhaps some of the jurisdictions that allow non emergency calls on 911 have simply given in because so many people call 911 for non emergencies that they will accept those calls, but they don't actively solicit non emergency calls on 911 otherwise it would entirely dilute the meaning of an emergency phone number. Just because the dispatcher has answered your call doesn't mean that it's acceptable to use 911 for non emergencies, the dispatcher has to confirm that you really don't need emergency response.

As a total aside, why are you calling the police for a non-injury fender bender? Why don't you just take down each other's insurance info and be on your merry way? You realize you're taking an officer off the street who could be responding to an actual emergency, right??

Repeating several other posters, but you should be calling the non-emergency number for whatever jurisdiction you happen to be in. If you don't know, try 411 or 311. 911 is not your personal police operator (ahem, forthright). If it's a non emergency, you would have time to look up the non emergency number even if you don't store it on your phone.

Also, in California, when you call 911 on your cell phone, it will route you to CHP dispatch. This is fine if you're on the highway, but otherwise, find your local police dept's dispatch number (this is different than the non emergency number) and call that number instead.

I'm appalled at the number of people who think it's 911's "job" to route your call. That person is called the operator. Trust me, when you really need an officer, firefighter or ambulance and some idiot is clogging up the phone lines because they're too lazy to figure out who to call, you won't have such a cavalier attitude about it.
posted by calgirl13 at 9:47 PM on August 23, 2009


calgirl13, you're wrong about this:

As a total aside, why are you calling the police for a non-injury fender bender? Why don't you just take down each other's insurance info and be on your merry way? You realize you're taking an officer off the street who could be responding to an actual emergency, right??

Even a non-injury fender bender requires a police report in most jurisdictions, unless it's just a tiny bumper-to-bumper tap. If there is any damage at all, especially if one or both parties are planning on filing an insurance claim, it needs to have a police report.

Also, not sure why you're being so adamant about discounting the anecdotal stories of others who clearly live in jurisdictions where 911 can be used for non-emergencies. As I stated in my earlier answer, our police/fire/EMS dispatch center answers ALL the lines, whether the caller dialed 911 or the non-emergency number. Of course they would prefer that 911 be used for emergencies, but if someone needs to call with a pertinent matter and doesn't know the non-emergency number, they're not going to create any problems by going ahead and dialing 911. Granted, this is a very small town, but I'm sure it's not uncommon. (It's the people who call with completely inane things that cause frustration).

And, as for your need for bona fides from law enforcement, my husband vouches for my answers here, and he's been a full-time police officer since February 2000.
posted by amyms at 10:42 PM on August 23, 2009


911 is for emergencies only. I repeat, emergencies only. Don't make me go all CAPS on your ass.

Maybe you missed the part of the thread where people have repeatedly said that they tried calling the non-911 number in non-emergency situations and were told to hang up and call 911. I've had this very same experience myself as well. Your belief that all municipalities work like the ones you've experienced is provably false. If anything, that is the one thing that has been shown beyond a shadow of a doubt by this thread: it varies.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:23 AM on August 24, 2009


Here is some more information about DC's situation. Apparently they used to use 311 for non-emergencies, and last year moved to using 911 for everything (amidst controversy). 311 is now only for other city services.
posted by advil at 7:25 AM on August 24, 2009


My stepfather, a police captain for 20-some years, implemented and managed the 911 system in my hometown, so I am keenly aware of what it is and is not to be used for. It's for emergencies, period. Once I saw a passed-out homeless guy lying in the street. I called 911. Someone's having a loud party? NOT 911. People are ticketed for false 911 calls, as they should be.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 AM on August 24, 2009


If it's a non emergency, you would have time to look up the non emergency number even if you don't store it on your phone.

This.
posted by desjardins at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2009


It really is sad that the people ranting about 911 for emergencies only don't seem to pay attention to what everyday people in this thread are saying. I'll try one last time and then surrender.

We are getting mixed signals from the jurisdictions themselves. Plus even if you are willing to look up the non-emergency phone number how do you know WHICH number to look up when you are away from home or (like me) in an area where the jurisdiction changes every 5 or 10 miles while I drive. Stop in a store and say, "hey mr. proprietor, what town is this?" and then go look up the non-emergency number? What if you're in a residential area and it's night time, knock on some stranger's door? Flag down a car? Does this start to sound ridiculous yet? I will do whatever "the police" want me to, but there is not just one "the police".

I will never reply to this thread again.
posted by forthright at 6:34 PM on August 24, 2009


Notice that the last two people on this thread who keep repeating the 911 is for emergencies only are in law enforcement or have family who are. Thank you desjardins.

Don't give me this bs about how you don't know what jurisdiction you're in, you're telling me you often drive blindly into strange cities? You very simply call 411 or the operator and ask for blank city's police dept's non emergency number. That's it. Where's the harm and/or downside in that? I suspect some ppl are simply defaulting to 911 just because it's easier to have the 911 dispatcher route you to the right place.

In light of some people claiming that they're directed to call 911, let me amend my statement. In the entire state of California, 911 is for emergencies only. I don't have the time to scour the web for every police dept in the nation to verify if you're right about calling it for non emergencies so I guess I can't make it as blanket a statement as I'd like.

And the reason why we're 'ranting' is because this is actually a life and death type of situation we're talking about here, this isn't a thread about who makes a better burger, it's about not calling an emergency number when it's not an emergency. I don't often go all apeshit, esp not with strangers on the web, but some of you don't seem to appreciate the seriousness of not calling 911 when it's not an emergency.
posted by calgirl13 at 9:54 PM on August 24, 2009


calgirl13, are you simply ignoring the people who've repeatedly posted that it differs by location who are in law enforcement or are married to people who are?
posted by hattifattener at 11:02 PM on August 24, 2009


I don't have the time to scour the web for every police dept in the nation to verify if you're right about calling it for non emergencies so I guess I can't make it as blanket a statement as I'd like.

Then don't burst in with an air of self-righteous authority, insulting the rest of us who have answered in good faith (some of whom are also related to law enforcement, but I guess you missed that in your rush to judgment). Clearly you only know about the jurisdiction you're personally familiar with, and you could have answered with that datapoint, but "going all apeshit" (your words) on other answerers who know about their own jurisdictions, was uncalled for.
posted by amyms at 11:03 PM on August 24, 2009


I don't have the time to scour the web for every police dept in the nation to verify if you're right about calling it for non emergencies so I guess I can't make it as blanket a statement as I'd like.

If you look above, some people _did_ post to sources. For instance, I posted an article about how DC has moved to using 911 for all calls, and 311 for non-police-related city services, verifying some of what people said above. Look, here's another one! Quote from a city official: "Miss Quintana said the same operators answer both 311 calls and 911 calls. She said some callers call the 311 line several times for the same incident and then call 911 when police don't respond fast enough. She said directing them to call 911 in all situations should lessen the call volume by reducing repeat calls."

Of course it seems like all DC has done since then is to confuse matters, but that is a different story. (No one in this thread, except the people freaking out, are talking about what should be! We are only talking about what is.)
posted by advil at 6:41 AM on August 25, 2009


As a total aside, why are you calling the police for a non-injury fender bender?

Because that's exactly what you're supposed to do? (According to numerous family members in law enforcement, and my insurance company.) You really never know when a stupid little accident could turn into a stupid giant lawsuit, so it's always helpful to have an official report of the incident that is as unbiased as it can be (meaning...not from either insurance co's standpoint). Even if you're at fault, it's in your best interest to have a police report.

Hell, even for my bashed windshield in NYC (upthread), when they got there I said, "sorry to make you guys come out, but I need this for my insurance," and they were all "hey...that's why we're paid the big bucks, don't worry about it." Yeah, I had to wait around for 6 hours as they (supposedly?) tended to other non-emergency calls, but I got my report. And yes, it was a very "Officer Friendly" moment, but like they said, that's [part of] why they're there.

I think the consensus for this thread is,"OP...use your best judgement." Do your best to get and call the non-emergency number, OR 311 OR 411, and if that doesn't work (or if they tell you to), call 911.
posted by AlisonM at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2009


I guess this thread is what happens when facts conflict so starkly with some people's worldview?

Hypothetical, worst-case scenario FUD aside . . . is there even one reputable source that makes and supports the claim that anyone, in the long history of 911, has died because someone called 911 inappropriately in a non-emergency?

Don't give me this bs about how you don't know what jurisdiction you're in, you're telling me you often drive blindly into strange cities? You very simply call 411 or the operator and ask for blank city's police dept's non emergency number. That's it. Where's the harm and/or downside in that? I suspect some ppl are simply defaulting to 911 just because it's easier to have the 911 dispatcher route you to the right place.

People often drive into and through "strange" cities without checking the proper protocol for non-emergency phone calls. Determining the severity of an incoming caller's problem and routing it appropriately is pretty much the 911 call-center's only job.

Also, to pretend that there's some bright line between emergency and non-emergency situations is a hair naive, isn't it?
posted by toomuchpete at 4:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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