There is a notable absence of evidence-informed alternatives to enforcement as a response to 911 calls, and this void in the field has undoubtedly contributed to the overuse of scarce law enforcement resources, harm to those who come into contact with law enforcement, and officer frustration with misdirected or unnecessary service calls.

There is also a great scarcity in knowledge related to 911 calls, the related call-taking and dispatching protocols and procedures, and suitable alternatives to punitive enforcement. Through this project, we hope to fill this gap by way of completing four distinct activities:

  • Examining preexisting literature on 911 calls for service;
  • Analyzing 911 computer-aided dispatch data for trends in call types, processing, and outcomes;
  • Developing a qualitative research-informed 911 system-processing map, tracing calls from receipt through service delivery; and
  • Convening law enforcement leaders and system stakeholders to contextualize these research findings and explore future alternatives to enforcement and sworn police response.

By defining the scope and nature of 911 calls for service, this research will inform strategies for quality service delivery, reduced reliance on enforcement, and enhanced officer and civilian safety and well-being. This project will help secure equal access to justice, help reduce arrests and thereby incarceration, and will work to strengthen families and communities, through expanded partnerships and roles in the community.

This project is funded through a grant by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.