Police officers dedicate most of their time to responding to 911 calls. Contrary to what many may believe, however, the majority of these calls are unrelated to crimes in progress, and officers need a wide range of resources—including clearly communicated and detailed upfront information, as well as training on alternatives to traditional enforcement approaches like citations and arrests—to respond effectively.

The Vera Institute of Justice’s Policing Program is partnering with stakeholders in Camden County, NJ and Tucson, AZ on an exploratory study that defines the landscape of 911 calls for service, how they are processed, what outcomes they produce, and what alternatives might exist. The goal of the project is to produce recommendations that will serve as a model for police departments and communications centers around the county.

Project Objectives

  • Develop a better understanding of the kinds of 911 calls that police departments receive, as well as how those calls are processed for response.

  • Develop a suite of implementable and testable alternatives to 911 call responses that do not involve police enforcement.

Key Fact

Over 240 million calls to 911 are made each year. The vast majority of these calls are unrelated to emergency events or crimes in progress, yet police are often the de-facto responders.