A New Jersey Group Has New Idea For Whom To Call When It’s Not An Emergency

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ticky-tack violations, minor spats between neighbors, police have better things to do than to respond to some calls that come in to 911, but they’re dispatched anyway.

One New Jersey group has an idea that would reserve cops for more serious crimes.

Instead of dialing 911 for help with mediating an argument or getting a panhandler to quit blocking traffic, Dianna Houenou with the ACLU of New Jersey has a new idea.

“We envision an agency staffed by professionals that could address these issues and resolve people’s problems but would not be there to arrest people,” she said.

Houenou said the cost to run such an office could be offset by savings it would bring to the criminal justice system.

“And we also spend millions of dollars enforcing and prosecuting behavior that shouldn’t be criminalized in the first place.”

The responding official wouldn’t be armed. The idea could lead to what Houenou calls ‘less aggressive’ policing, since the ACLU said some of the most visible and controversial police-involved deaths have started with low-level offenses.

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