AUSTIN (KXAN) — As non-emergency police reports see longer wait times, one 311 caller said she wished an operator told her it would take weeks, not hours, for a detective to call her.
On Nov. 20, Dixie Evatt of southwest Austin said she called 311 to report a car burglary, after she unknowingly left it unlocked the night before.
“It was raining. I probably pushed the wrong button instead of the lock,” she said.
She’s not too bothered about what got stolen, which included a mantle clock, a handicap placard, an umbrella and some cash. But she wishes she had a better idea of what was going to happen after she reported the crime.
“I called 311. They told me someone would contact me within 12 hours,” she said. She waited the 12 hours and called back. “And she said, no one is going to come for maybe weeks.”
We reached out to 311 and the Austin Police Department (APD) about the call.
A 311 spokesperson told KXAN in an email, “Under the APD Non-Emergency Request Police Report service request, APD has a 12 hour follow-up response for burglary of a vehicle,” and confirmed the call-taker provided Evatt with that information. 311 said operators should also advise callers APD’s callback times may extend beyond that time frame.
The entity said it “will work to educate our ambassadors to make sure that this miscommunication between Austin 3-1-1 ambassadors and residents does not happen again.”
APD said Evatt’s report is still in the queue “awaiting assignment,” and “due to staffing levels, callers are experiencing longer than normal wait times when filing a police report through 3-1-1.”
The department responds to reports based on priority level. As we’ve reported before, this structure has helped improve police response times to emergencies and violent crimes.
Evatt said she understands where her situation falls on the priority list.
“There are a lot of things officers have to focus on,” she said. “Lucky for me, I don’t keep a lot of stuff of value in my car, thank goodness.”
But she still hopes the city comes up with a system to get to 311 reports more quickly.
Police said home surveillance or cellphone footage can be a crucial asset to these types of investigations, especially if cameras capture license plate numbers.