CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Police Department is taking a new approach to the way it handles 911 calls.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy’s office confirms he wants to cut down on the number of non-emergency calls that 911 dispatchers pass on to police officers, allowing cops to focus on more urgent calls.
CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports the department is working with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications – which handles 911 calls – to allow police sergeants prioritize which calls merit a police response before they are passed on to beat officers.
Previously, 911 dispatchers would decide which calls are passed on to police officers. Now, police sergeants can overrule dispatchers if they feel beat officers don’t need to respond to certain calls.
OEMC is also ending a practice of sending a dispatching police from one end of a police district to another, in order to clear a 911 call from the dispatcher’s screen.
Now, calls will be passed on so that officers can stay on their beats all the time, allowing them to better be able to get to know the people who live on their beats.
Community activist Andrew Holmes said he’s still on the fence about McCarthy’s plan for 911 calls.
“You have to look at what the call is about, and I think he has some good ideas, and good attention,” he said. “But also, at the same time, you have to look at the workloads that’s being put on the Chicago police officers, with the violence that’s out there.”
Chicago residents were split on the idea.
“I think it’s a good idea, because people call 911 for all sorts of crazy reasons,” said Noble Square resident Jennifer Bett.
Lavar Carter said, “That’s their job, to respond; serve and protect, and respond quickly. … regardless of the call.”
Most of McCarthy’s plan for handling 911 calls is still getting off the ground, but he hopes to decrease the number of non-emergency calls police respond to by the middle or end of summer.