Detroit Police to Triage 911 Calls

By Carlton Purvis

The Detroit Police Department (DPD) will begin prioritizing 911 calls as part of ongoing efforts to improve emergency service, the Detroit News reported Tuesday. Calls will be placed in one of five categories according to the level of danger. DPD response will be based on those categories.

“The aim is to reduce the number of calls considered ‘non-emergency’ — ones not requiring immediate service or an officer's presence — and redirect 40 percent of the calls for service to the [Telephone Crime Reporting Unit],” according to the Detroit News. With many police departments facing budget cuts, Detroit Police Chief Ralph L. Godbee has said a logical area for reductions is unproductive calls for service.

In January, Godbee said the department would be moving forward with its Virtual Precinct program that would provide citizens with a non-emergency number to call 24 hours a day. Phones would be manned by the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit.

The department also eliminated several clerical positions to free up 100 additional officers for street patrols. The changes went into effect on January 9 and include precincts being closed to the public from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., with minimal staffing (one officer, a supervisor, and personnel handling prisoners).

Last August, DPD adjusted its policy to stop dispatching officers to investigate burglar alarms, unless an actual break-in was verified by an alarm company or a person at the building.

Response by patrol officers will now be aimed toward “those situations in which there is an immediate threat to public safety or an officer's presence is required to address an emergency situation that absent an officer's presence is unlikely to be mitigated without additional risk to life or property,” according to a DPD statement.

From the Detroit News:

Priority 1: Considered an emergency; police are dispatched for situations including the perpetrator still on the scene; emergency medical service is needed or requested; and the preservation of evidence or the protection of the crime scene is urgent.

Priority 2: Considered serious; police are dispatched but the situation is stabilized. Same criteria as Priority 1, except the crime or incident is in progress or happened within 15 minutes and the likelihood of apprehension is high or low.

Priority 3: Not considered serious; police dispatched because assistance is needed, but not urgently. Similar to Priority 2, but the incident occurred less than 15 minutes earlier. These can include a break-in or house-stripping.

Priority 4: Not considered serious; police dispatched or runs may be redirected to Telephone Crime Reporting Unit only when the incident is not in progress; the perpetrator is not on the scene; it occurred more than 15 minutes earlier; and the likelihood of apprehension is low.

Priority 5: Not serious; Telephone Crime Reporting Unit handles. Similar to Priority 4, but apprehension is unlikely and damage or loss is less than $10,000.

photo by Patricia Drury/flickr


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