Last week FOX 46 Charlotte showed you the growing problem at the Charlotte 911 center with people tying up emergency lines with non-emergency calls. There is a local call center that started 11 years ago in hopes of easing the severity of the problem.
311 is relatively new, but the goal over the last decade remains the same, giving people an option to call for scenarios that aren’t life threatening.
You’ve heard some of the outrageous calls to 911.
“I am trying to get home and there are dogs running loose and I am scared. I need a dog catcher or I need police to take me home,” said one 911 caller.
The dispatcher responded with a simple solution.
“For animal control it’s 311,” said the dispatcher.
While some of the most common non-emergency calls at 911 are about pizza…
“I want you to go to dominos at West Church and Sugar Creek because they are not bringing my order,” said a 911 caller.
The most frequent calls at 311, are still serious, but not life-threatening.
“Weather. You know a lot of our calls are based on seasonal. So weather and summertime are very busy,” said CharMeck 311 Director, Janice Quintana.
From storm drain problems, to issues with flooding, the 311 call center handles it all.
“It could be fertilizer or something of that nature in the streams we are not really sure,” said one dispatcher to a caller at the 311 center who was concerned about oil in a local stream.
Around 110 operators are tucked away inside an officer building in North Charlotte. They take more than 4,000 calls per day, helping take the load off dispatchers back at the Charlotte 911 center at CMPD headquarters in Uptown.
“Before 311 was created, the first one was in Baltimore as a non-emergency police hotline, to help remove calls from 911 and now across the country there are 311 centers all over in mostly big municipalities and it really has helped 911 not have so many calls,” said Quintana.
In the Charlotte Mecklenburg area, the 311 center has received awards for it’s service to the community and ability to quickly help callers.
“If we think it’s for 911, we can easily transfer it to them,” said Quintana.
To handle even more non-emergency calls the Charlotte-Mecklenburg 311 center recently hired bilingual call operators, giving even more people in the Charlotte area an opportunity to report a problem.