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Stop calling 911 for non-emergencies. Fresno has a new phone number for that

Here’s a look inside the job of a Fresno police dispatcher

A tour of Fresno Police Department's dispatch center which services other emergency agencies beyond city police. Fresno Police Department's dispatchers struggle to meet demands of calls.
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A tour of Fresno Police Department's dispatch center which services other emergency agencies beyond city police. Fresno Police Department's dispatchers struggle to meet demands of calls.

If you need to report a non-emergency issue to the city of Fresno, there’s a new number to call: 311.

And, you can chat with city staff through a new instant messaging tool on the bottom right corner of the city’s website to notify the city about pot holes, traffic signal outages, graffiti, illegal dumping and more.

311 is used as a non-emergency number in cities nationwide for local information and services. Fresno’s system will upgrade the city’s 2006 One Call Center number, 621-CITY or 2489, that’s used to report an issue or get information or services from the city. That number still works.

The new 311 system will be integrated with the city’s FresGO mobile app as well.

“Fresno 311 will be easy to remember and easy to use, so we can reduce the number of non-emergency calls that put stress on our 911 operators,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said.

Fresno’s police dispatchers, facing low staffing levels and increasing call volume, struggle to meet state requirements on answering 911 calls because they field so many non-emergency calls.

Currently, Fresno dispatchers answer about 3,000 calls a day, and about 40 percent of them are 911 calls, Police Chief Jerry Dyer estimated.

“The convenient number that people remember when they need city services is 911,” Dyer said. “That number should be reserved for emergencies only. Unfortunately over the years, people have utilized that number for other needs as well. We’re hoping another convenient number, 311, will help alleviate some of those calls into the communication center.”

If you live within the city limits and call 311, you’ll get a city staffer on the other end to help with needs, not an automated operator.

City staff will operate 311 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This story has been updated to clarify the average number of calls received daily by the police dispatch center.

Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.
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