The next year will see some important steps forward as Arlington County looks to uncouple law enforcement from its response to homelessness and behavioral health crises.
In 2024, the county will implement new protocols and a call system to ensure people experiencing behavioral health crises — due to a mental illness, substance use disorder or disability — receive services rather than get arrested and jailed.
June 27, 2022, around 1:44 a.m., a man lost in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona called 911. An emergency services dispatcher for Pima County answered. The man, clearly distressed, tried to describe his surroundings and explain that he was lost, wet and freezing. But before he could finish, the dispatcher interrupted him, saying, “I don’t understand, un momento,” and abruptly transferred the call to the U.S. Border Patrol. The agent who picked up shushed the caller as he started to speak —“Cállate!” (“Be quiet!”) — and spoke to the dispatcher instead, in English. Then they hung up, leaving the man to the agent. An incident report suggests that no actions were taken to follow up or locate the lost caller: “No additional calls have come from the subject. … At this time the caller has not been identified and not located.”
“The text read, ‘this is Akron, we got a 911 call, is everything okay?’ And then she literally responds back with ‘help’ and the address,” Capt. David Laughlin with the Akron Police Department told WJW.
Police told WEWS they were able to locate the woman who called 911 along with a 26-year-old man in the home who had been shot and was in critical condition.
In the past 48 hours, there have been two public safety alerts regarding 911 outages in the area.
BANGOR —Soon, when you dial the Penobscot Regional Communications Center’s non-emergency line, artificial intelligence will answer the phone.
The hope is that the system will help to ease the workload for the understaffed dispatch center, which took more than 68,000 calls last year alone.