Austin Police Forward Non-Emergency Calls From 911 to 311
By Elexa Sherry
Reporting Texas TV
Non-emergency calls include incidents like stolen bikes and cars, as well as vandalism, attempted burglary of residences and verbal disturbances.
University of Texas student Skyler Quait recently noticed several bikes destroyed and stolen near her residence hall. Although her bike was safe, her roommate’s was not.
She said no police came to the scene.
“There have been a few incidents where it’s like, am I really safe here? Are my things going to be ok,” Quait said.
APD Assistant Chief Troy Gay said the new protocols are in response to the department’s 163 vacancies. Gay said APD is doing what it can to keep the community safe despite the officer shortage. Several officers are moving from their current units, which include the DWI and Motor Vehicles units.
“Our changes are made holistically for really the betterment of our community at large. We have pushed many of our officers back to the frontline,” Gay said.
There are currently more than 100 Austin 3-1-1 Ambassadors. Nearly two dozen are dedicated to the Austin Public Health COVID line, and the remaining 81 are assigned to City Services.
Gay said these new procedures began prior to October, but the pandemic delayed making the new rules official.
“Our new protocols in October are things that we’ve been working on for a long time,” Gay said.
“I think for the last year and a half these have been informal protocols because of COVID and we have just finalized these because of the staffing shortage,” he said.
“We have just made these permanent changes.”
UT student Sarah St. Pierre said after someone broke into her car in downtown Austin in August, her call to 911 was automatically forwarded to 311.
“We never heard from them again. We sent in a police report and I guess it was just filed away to deal with later and it’s been months and we haven’t heard anything,” St. Pierre said.
The protocols 311 follows for its calls remain the same. When a person calls 311, the ambassador enters a service request for the APD Non-Emergency Division. The team then reviews and retrieves the request to call back with a case number if appropriate.
Find more information on the new changes at https://www.austintexas.gov/news/apd-announces-changes-call-routing-and-non-emergency-response-services.