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Atlanta launches campaign to streamline 911 use amid surge in non-emergency calls

Of the 1.3 million calls answered by Atlanta’s emergency line last year, only 45,000 were considered high-priority


Call takers work at Atlanta’s 911 center on Thursday, July 6, 2023. (Arvin Temkar /

Arvin Temkar/TNS

By Riley Bunch
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta launched a new public campaign this week titled “Make the Right Call,” in an effort to keep non-emergencies from tying up 911 dispatchers.

According to the Atlanta Police Department, around 60% of calls made to 911 are for non emergencies, while call volume increased 14% overall last year.

Those non-emergency calls keeping dispatchers busy can range from landlord-tenant disputes to a neighbor’s noisy dog. Atlanta Police Chief Administrative Officer Peter Aman told Atlanta City Council members last month that some callers even dial 911 for help getting tickets to baseball or football games.

“We have a variety of calls — actually really a mind-boggling variety of calls — that people make,” he said at the time.

The campaign aims to help residents distinguish when to call the city’s emergency line by dialing 911 and when to use the ATL311, which handles issues like pothole repair, code enforcement, graffiti removal and other non-emergencies.

“High volumes of non-emergency calls burden our E911 system when they need to be attending to true emergencies,” Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement. “To better serve our residents and visitors in creating one safe city, we need the public’s help to spread the word that there are multiple options to make the right call and receive support from the City in non-emergency situations.”

Last year, according to the police department, of the 1.3 million calls answered by Atlanta’s emergency line, only 45,000 were considered high-priority.

City officials are asking residents to utilize 311 for instances of civil disputes, car break-ins, non-life threatening car accidents and abandoned vehicles, while 911 should be reserved for medical and cases like house fires or car accidents that sustained injuries.

Residents within city limits can also send texts to 911 to report non-emergency incidents instead of calling the dispatch line.

ATL311 is also a partner with Atlanta’s Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative that offers community response services helping reduce arrests of individuals experiencing homelessness, substance abuse or mental health concerns.

The city’s 311 line is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But residents can reach out during closed hours through a mobile app or through social media. More information can be found at

Who to call?

911: Medical emergencies, active outdoor burning, drug activity in progress requesting police to direct traffic, missing person reporting, welfare check on an Atlanta resident, receiving threatening calls, car accidents with serious injuries, situations of immediate danger

311: Potholes on city streets, water leak or water main break, traffic signal repair/replacement, requesting a new sidewalk, bulk collection request, ode enforcement issues, supportive services, finding court information, tree inspections

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