Local News

Durham Residents Want To Get The 411 On 911 Service

Posted December 5, 2001

— Being a 911 operator can often be a thankless job, but some Durham residents are not happy about the service, so they created a task force to come up with some answers.

In Durham, there is an overwhelming number of calls and high turnover in the 911 dispatch center.

"The staffing level is below what we feel is appropriate to operate our center on a 24-hour basis," said Cheryl Smith, who works in the 911 Dispatch Center in Durham.

Citizens in a north Durham neighborhood are not happy with 911 service and police response time, so they have formed a 911 task force. Newman Aguiar heads the group and said part of the problem is many people just do not understand how 911 works.

"If there are issues within 911 or the police department, then we need to identify them," Aguiar said. "There's a common misperception among residents that when they call 911, they're calling the Police Department."

Many people also fail to realize Durham has a non-emergency phone number that rings in the dispatch center.

"I believe part of our task as part of this task force will be to educate the residents on how 911 is structured," Aguiar said.

"Anytime that we can have one-on-one contact, direct contact, that will be helpful at any point and it could be a learning experience for all involved," Smith said.

The task force has set up a telephone number to hear complaints from residents about 911. They will turn their findings over to the 911 center.


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