Chicago Freeing Cops from Answering Minor 911 Calls for Service


Chicago has embarked on a dramatic change in 911 dispatch to free police officers to respond to the most serious crimes, says Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Alderman Jason Ervin asked McCarthy when Chicago would abandon an outdated dispatch policy that sends police officers to 70 percent of all 911 calls received, compared to 30 percent in other major cities.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. McCarthy said, “If a job comes in in a neighboring beat and it's not an emergency call for service, that job will actually get stacked until that beat is available to handle it. That's what beat integrity is all about. Same officers in the same beat every single day. Those officers are not only accountable for what's happening on the beat, they also know who the good kids are from the bad kids. They're not stopping everybody. They're stopping the right people because they know who they are.” He added, “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.”

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