The #Transforming911 full data report will be released later in 2022, but we wanted to first share our top findings on the urgent need to update and transform our 911 and public safety systems.

Explore this page to learn more…

911 IS THE FRONT DOOR
TO OUR PUBLIC SAFETY SYSTEM​

 In 2018, Americans interacted with police over 61 million times. Over half of those interactions were because residents called 911, with white residents being more likely to call 911 than Black or Hispanic residents.

There are several reasons that St. Louisans might be hesitant to call 911, including…

fragmented public safety landscape

outdated technology

reliance on armed police

low dispatcher staffing levels

Understanding St. Louis’ 911 Landscape

St. Louis County has close to 90 municipalities. The St. Louis region has 53 police departments that dispatch through a network of 15 public safety access points (PSAPs) that coordinate 911 services.

Alison Owens, North City resident


“I had a car accident on 20th Street and Delmar. A lady and my vehicle had collided, but when I got out of my car to get her insurance information, she backed up and drove off. I called 911, but they never answered. The phone line kept rolling over like, ‘Someone will be right with you,’ then it would hang up. So I called again. Same thing. A dispatcher never picked up. I finally left the scene because there was no damage and she was gone. I drove to my doctor’s appointment about 25 minutes away in Des Peres and I got a call back from the police after I arrived. I picked up and they said, ‘Did you call 911?’ But I told them, ‘Nope.’ What was the point?”

“I had a car accident on 20th Street and Delmar. A lady and my vehicle had collided, but when I got out of my car to get her insurance information, she backed up and drove off. I called 911, but they never answered. The phone line kept rolling over like, ‘Someone will be right with you,’ then it would hang up. So I called again. Same thing. A dispatcher never picked up. I finally left the scene because there was no damage and she was gone. I drove to my doctor’s appointment about 25 minutes away in Des Peres and I got a call back from the police after I arrived. I picked up and they said, ‘Did you call 911?’ But I told them, ‘Nope.’ What was the point?”

-Alison

911 was originally designed back in the sixties, not for care, but for control.

Tracy Stanton, Power Builder Organizer at Freedom Community Center

The St. Louis Police Department has one of the highest rates of killings per capita in the nation. We address public safety with detention, which is a reaction, not proactive. Our institutions have to be created not to protect property, but to protect people. They were created by a certain group of people who benefit. There are communities that don’t have direct relationships with the police on an everyday basis. They don’t have interactions where people get killed. But my community is not one of them.”

The St. Louis Police Department has one of the highest rates of killings per capita in the nation. We address public safety with detention, which is a reaction, not proactive. Our institutions have to be created not to protect property, but to protect people. They were created by a certain group of people who benefit. There are communities that don’t have direct relationships with the police on an everyday basis. They don’t have interactions where people get killed. But my community is not one of them.”



-Tracy Stanton, Power Builder Organizer at Freedom Community Center

In St. Louis County, calls for service for non-major crimes outnumber major crimes 4 to 1.

In St. Louis County, the most common category of likely 911 calls was for “service.”

Service means responding to community issues that are typically non-criminal such as answering a burglar alarm, following up on a call about an ordinance violation, or checking on property. The next largest category were medical-related calls.

The bulk of police time is not spent on major crimes. Note: The FBI National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIRBS) defines major crimes as violent crime, property crime, and crimes against society.

They are spent on miscellaneous policing (e.g. maintenance and station assignment, administrative).

For every one person-hour spent on violent crime, officers spent nearly 13 person-hours on miscellaneous policing, 7.7 person-hours on service calls, and 2.7 person-hours on traffic calls.

How can we reimagine public safety?

Both locally and nationally, violent crime has generally declined since the 90s…

…but in St. Louis and similar cities, policing gets more local funding than health and human services.

Across the St. Louis region, non-police first responder options are severely lacking, leaving many municipalities poorly equipped to respond to behavioral health needs.

Bee, Fountain Park resident and conceptual mixed-media artist

“My mom’s bipolar and lives in Jeff City. Her meds stopped working last year and we didn’t want to call the cops. We tried different crisis hotlines and everybody told us to just call 911. And my mom is just like me — she doesn’t respond well to the police. So we knew we couldn’t do that. If there was a way to call 911 and help people in crisis with people who were not wearing police uniforms and didn’t carry weapons, that would be a great help.”

“My mom’s bipolar and lives in Jeff City. Her meds stopped working last year and we didn’t want to call the cops. We tried different crisis hotlines and everybody told us to just call 911. And my mom is just like me — she doesn’t respond well to the police. So we knew we couldn’t do that. If there was a way to call 911 and help people in crisis with people who were not wearing police uniforms and didn’t carry weapons, that would be a great help.”
-Bee, conceptual mixed-media artist

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