Berkeley police non-emergency line switches to automated routing system

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Cesar Ruiz /File

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The Berkeley Police Department introduced an automated routing system for its non-emergency line, replacing the use of emergency dispatchers.

Non-emergency calls are dialed to report situations that, though criminal in nature, do not require immediate attention, according to the city of Berkeley website. These situations include “cold crimes,” vehicle complaints, routine neighborhood issues and civil matters. BPD said in a Nixle alert released last Wednesday that the new system is “intended to allow callers to get the information they seek more quickly while at the same time freeing emergency dispatchers to complete other tasks.”

“I mean, although it’s not an immediate emergency, still, it’s a human problem, so it can be complicated,” said Berkeley resident Weiting Chen. “I think it’s actually better to talk to a real human and then direct it to an operator in a department, (to) reach out to a person. Reaching out to a machine can be done, but it’s going to take a longer time. There’s less guarantee that things might be done.”

BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White could not be reached for comment as of press time.

The new automated phone attendant will be able to provide callers with information and options for a wide range of services. By quickly directing calls to the appropriate divisions, the new routing system allows the staff and emergency center dispatchers to efficiently handle calls for service, according to the Nixle alert.

“I personally don’t really like it,” said campus junior Leah Wong. “When it’s a person, whoever answers the phone can listen to your problem or your report. If they change it, I feel like it’s going to take a longer time to figure it out. I don’t think it’s convenient, but, in a way, I guess they don’t need to hire someone to just answer people.”

Contact Bella An at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BellaAn_dc.