Most 911 Calls Have Nothing To Do With Crime

A 911 call might be about a noisy neighbor, a trespassing concern, or from someone experiencing a mental health crisis. As the nation’s helpline, 911 is typically the only resource that’s readily available to people seeking timely assistance. So, it’s not surprising than 911 dispatchers receive 240 million calls a year, an average of 7.6 calls every second. Although the vast majority of 911 calls have nothing to do with crime or violence, police are still dispatched to respond. Analyzing publicly available data, police from 9 cities — including Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans and Seattle — found that in most of these cities fewer than 3% of calls were related to situations involving violent crime. Of the 15.6 million total calls across 9 cities, 62.6% involved non-criminal situations where there was typically no safety concern. Ultimately, this analysis demonstrates the need for a broader set of services and solutions beyond police. More than a dozen cities have launched programs that dispatch trained civilian crisis responders — instead of police — to 911 calls involving mental health issues, substance abuse, and neighbor disputes. Police argue that we need public safety systems that provide timely, safe, effective responses, without relying 100% on police to solve problems that don’t have anything to do with crime.