Marion County sees increase in 911 calls

Marion County's 911 dispatch center is seeing an increase in 911 calls - what it calls a significant increase over last year.

While some of that increase comes from an expansion of the center's responsibilities, police say part of the reason can be attributed to people taking action to make their neighborhoods safer.

In Scott Thien's neighborhood on the northeast side of Indianapolis, there's a concerted effort underway to encourage people to call 911 if something's not right.

"We're trying to get the message out," Thien said. "If you see something, say something and that's what we're trying to get out with our blog and our email blasts."

Scott himself made the call a couple of weeks ago, when he noticed a potential danger in the neighborhood. He says he got results from police almost immediately.

"They were able to intercept the questionable characters, if you will, fairly quickly," Thien said.

The message - to take a stand and make the call - appears to be resonating in Marion County. IMPD Chief Rick Hite has repeatedly made the plea for people to call 911 to report emergencies and call police about suspicious behavior.

Hundreds of Hoosiers also have taken The Blue Pledge to make neighborhoods safer. Now the numbers inside the Marion County 911 Center are adding up, too.

"As you can hear behind me, they're coming in left and right, right now," said Maj. Michael Hubbs with the Marion County Sheriff's Department. "The chief's message has contributed and people are simply calling and that's what we want them to do is if they see something wrong, call us. The only bad call is the call we don't receive."

Marion County's 911 Center gets an average of 252 calls an hour. It's received more than 3,000 additional calls this July compared to last July and 10,000 more calls for the first seven months of 2014, compared to that same period in 2013.

Hubbs says an important part of the reason for increased call volume is the dispatch center's expanded responsibility. They now take calls from Beech Grove and from Animal Care and Control.

But Hubbs says another big spike has come from neighbors taking action after several months of violence in the community.

"The public, they tend to pay attention to the media more and frankly their surroundings because of what's happened. So, it's sad to say, but there is good that comes out of some of these events in regards to reporting criminal activity," Hubbs said.

They are phone calls that could improve safety and Scott Thien says in his neighborhood, they already have.

"We really rely on our fellow residents to be the eyes and ears around us," Thien said, "and they do and it's working."

Marion County's 911 Center is also now using new software to better track calls coming in. There is a non-emergency number that comes into dispatch that leaders say is best used to report suspicious activity that's not an immediate threat. That number is (317) 327-3811.

But if you have a doubt or have an emergency that threatens your life or property, police say make that call to 911.

Marion County 911 data (2013-14)