Durham Ponders New Number for Non-Emergency Calls
Posted March 7, 2001
DURHAM — Emergency operators answer calls for life-threatening emergencies, but they also get plenty of non-emergency requests and questions. Some Durham residents say a new non-emergency number is the solution.
Last year, Durham's 911 center handled more than 274,000 emergency calls, in addition to more than 168,000 non-emergency calls.
Several Durham residents are pushing for an alternative to 911. They say non-emergency calls could delay 911 response, and adding a 311 number to handle non-emergency calls is a solution.
"I don't want to be No. 9 or 10 in a queue of people waiting to get a police car to me, a fire engine or an ambulance," said 311 supporter Mike Shiflett.
City leaders say there is no problem. Assistant City Manager John Pederson says that more than 97 percent of the city's 911 calls are answered within three rings. He says the dispatch staff is well equipped to handle the incoming calls, and the 311 proposal is too costly.
Pederson will give the city-county committee his opinion next week, which could put the 311 idea on hold indefinitely.