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Later this week, the Austin Police Department will ask residents to redirect 911 calls to the non-emergency 311 line when there is no longer a present danger.

Non-emergency calls—incidents when there is no longer in progress, a suspect is no longer on the scene or there is no immediate threat to life or property—will be reported to 311 or starting Friday, including calls for:

  • Animal Service
  • Auto Theft
  • Burglary of residence, business or vehicle
  • Crashes not requiring a tow, when there are not injuries, both drivers have proof of insurance and a driver's license, and when neither driver is impaired
  • COVID-19 Violations
  • Verbal Disturbances
  • Prostitution
  • Suspicious Person / Vehicle
  • Vandalism
  • Theft

Emergency calls can still be reported to 911.

The change comes amid a staffing shortage and a recent review of APD's patrol COVID mitigation protocols initiated in May 2020. The staffing shortage reached severe levels this year as a result of the halting of police cadet classes for a year, which have since resumed, and the cutting of the police budget by city council last year after mass protests against police brutality.

The department has said the change is aligned with the new reimagining public safety task force patrol response recommendations.

The department, which is now being led by APD's Joseph Chacon (Austin City Council still needs to approve the appointment), is looking into the possibility of sending civilians to assist with non-emergency cases. A civilians unit would mean someone in the community could help obtain evidence for police.

"These response changes will ensure that we will bring all of our resources to bear, including officers and technical experts, to respond to all situations as appropriate," Chacon said. "We recognize the staffing challenges our department faces, and we are trying to be innovative in how we respond."

More on APD:

Interim Austin police chief Joe Chacon selected for permanent position


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