The Baltimore Police Department (BPD), working in cooperation with AT&T and the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), launched the nation’s first three-digit, non-emergency system on October 2, 1996 to test AT&T’s technology. After six months, the project was deemed an overwhelming success by the Baltimore police. The BPD believes that the three-digit non-emergency system has significantly enhanced the overall efficiency of the city’s 911 emergency system.

AT&T selected Baltimore as the pilot site of the AT&T 311 Service because of the company’s close work with the department on other law enforcement initiatives. Also, the BPD’s diverse population and innovative community policing initiatives made it an ideal test case.

Results after the first six months showed:

  • reduced calls to 911.
  • reduced answer time.
  • reduced busy signals.
  • reduced hang-ups.
  • reduced numbers of callers receiving recorded messages.

The BPD attributes a 15 percent drop in crime in the first quarter of 1997 in part to the AT&T 311 Service, which gave police the ability to pro-actively fight crime.

The two main concerns of a 311 service, confusion and cost, have also been proven false. There has been no evidence of confusion by the public as to when and how to use 311 versus 911. Over one-third of calls to the Baltimore police each day are handled by 311.

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