Editor’s Note: An Austin Police spokesperson contacted KXAN Friday after the Department looked into the 911 call reported in this story. APD could not verify that a domestic violence victim was diverted to 311. Austin’s Emergency Communications Director Kenneth Murphy told KXAN the new policy implemented Oct. 1 has no effect on APD response to domestic violence calls or calls involving violation of emergency protective orders.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Austin’s first weekend diverting some 911 calls to 311 in cases where there isn’t an immediate threat, KXAN asked whether 311 received more calls than in weekends past.
Compared to the weekend of Sept. 17-19 when 311 received 994 service requests and the weekend of Sept. 24-26 when there were 911, 311 received 1,075 this past weekend of Oct. 1-3. However, it is important to note big events like Austin City Limits music festival and MotoGP could have affected the uptick in calls.
The Austin Police Department is reminding people they should still call 911 for emergencies when there is an immediate threat to life or property.
“We’ve been following this, and we are paying attention and are concerned, and, you know, want to follow along how this is going to be implemented to make sure that safety, particularly safety for domestic violence victims, is very much at the forefront of conversation,” said SAFE Alliance VP of Community Services Coni Huntsman Stogner of the change.
Stogner would like to see 311 operators undergo in-depth training around domestic violence and sexual assault.
“I could see a situation where a domestic violence victim might decide to call 311, because they don’t feel like it is a very dangerous situation, but just the mere fact of her or him, the victim picking up the phone to make the call, then things could get escalated,” Stogner explained.
Austin 311 says its call takers undergo seven weeks of training to be able to triage more than 200 types of service requests pertaining to city services. 311 says if a caller believes his or her life is in danger, operators will transfer that person to 911.