Dispatch Change Coming?
Chicago has quietly embarked on a dramatic change in 911 dispatch to free police officers to respond to the most serious crimes, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy disclosed Thursday.
McCarthy let the cat out of the bag while testifying before the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
It happened when West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) asked when Chicago was finally going to abandon an outdated dispatch policy that sends police officers to 70 percent of all 911 calls received, compared to 30 percent in other major cities.
McCarthy replied that the change was already under way, with the goal of creating, what he called “beat integrity.” That means leaving police officers to patrol their assigned beats, instead of chasing their tails by running from one 911 call to another at the behest of dispatchers at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
Beat integrity? We did that. 1993. And no one left it alone. What else ya got?
McCarthy said a more dramatic change is coming soon, when the Chicago Police Department determines “which jobs we’re not gonna respond to” anymore.
“That’s a call that I’m going to make — and there’s going to be some wrankling about that,” he said.
“We don’t need to respond to calls for service because, ‘My children are fighting over the remote control.’ We don’t need to respond to calls for service because, ‘My son won’t eat his dinner.’ Unfortunately, believe it or not, those are calls we actually respond to today.”
Ok, that's a step in the right direction. Can it be done?
- OEMC Executive Director Gary Schenkel has acknowledged that it won’t be easy to ween Chicagoans of the habit of dialing 911 at every turn. It will require a major public relations campaign to divert lower priority calls to 311 or convince crime victims to file their reports online.