Wasted 911 Calls
Chicago residents complain about the Chicago Police Department’s lack of efficiency in responding to 911 emergency calls. But to what extent is the public responsible for these inefficiencies? In 2011, 20.04%—nearly one fifth (1,321,827 calls out of a total of 6,595,105)—of all 911 calls made to CPD were found to be unwarranted. These unwarranted calls flood the system and tie up resources that could have been used to respond to high priority calls. The graph below shows the percentage of all 911 emergency calls deemed illegitimate in 2011, broken down by percentage and type, including hang-ups, misdialing, children playing on the phone, and prank calls.
Number of 911 Calls by Type
Disturbances from barking dogs, loud music or parties, lawn mowers, vehicle alarm or horns and domestic issues topped the list of 911 calls in 2011. Complaints regarding disturbances, traffic violations, assistance with emergency management service, battery (simple, aggravated, sexual, and domestic), and accidents made up the majority of the 911 emergency calls, with at least 220,000 calls recorded in 2011 for each type. The chart below illustrates all types recording more than 10,000 calls in 2011.
Percent Change in the Number of 911 Calls by Type
Between 2010 and 2011 emergency calls due to community concerns rose 26.2% — the greatest increase among all types of calls. This was mainly due to gang violence, selling narcotics, prostitution, concerns about abandoned and dilapidated buildings that host criminal activity, disturbances, burglaries, vandalism, and traffic violations. 911 calls made for trespassing, information for police, traffic violations, emergency management services, and shots fired saw a small increase. Fire-related 911 calls declined the most, decreasing 13.1% from 2010 to 2011. The chart below shows the percent changes from 2010 to 2011 in 911 calls for all types that reported more than 10,000.
Data Source: Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) 2011 data summarized by Social Science Research Center, DePaul University.
Disclaimer: The graphs and charts above show only the 911 calls received by Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) and not the actual crime numbers. For more information about the data, read the data caveats section.