Police, Advisory Board talk 911 operations and 311

Note: Due to technical difficulties, two videos cannot be uploaded.

There’s a difference between 311 and 911, and the police want to make sure everyone is aware of it. Aside from the notoriously slow response time of 311, it’s not for emergencies. For that, there’s 911. Police Advisory Board member and Burholme Town Watch President Paul Andris explained at last night’s Burholme Civic Association meeting how 911 works so efficiently.

“In  Philadelphia, there are 3.3 million calls per year to 911,” Andris said. “There are 330,000 crank calls.”

Andris showed an educational video –the same he shows to students at schools he presents to — about how to best use 911, and how the operators are able to trace your call so easily.

Your name, address and phone number automatically appear on the operator’s screen when you call, much like an advanced caller ID system. Cell phones can be tracked either via their GPS devices or by triangulating the nearby cell towers.

Calls are usually answered in two seconds, Andris said, and 190 foreign languages can be translated.

“It’s important to know how quickly your calls are answered,” he said. That’s one of the reasons he dislikes 311.

Andris cited instances in which got a delayed response from the non-emergency city hotline — and sometimes no response at all.

“I’m not a fan of 311,” 2nd District Community Relations Officer Mark Mroz agreed. Mroz said there was a lot of confusion during the heavy snow about weather 311 or 911 should be called.

He put the issue to rest, saying “It’s illegal to save a spot . . . an officer will give you a ticket if you’re observed saving a spot. But in my opinion, that’s a sanitation issue.”

Andris said he’s “totally against the 311 system” and that the system has not, as promised, reduced the number of calls to 911.

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