Some callers frustrated with 911 dispatch service transition

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - Just two weeks after the Huntersville Police Department asked CMPD to take over its 911 dispatch service, some callers are getting frustrated with the transition.

Huntersville Police Chief Philip Potter said part of the confusion comes back to a new non-emergency number.

"We've changed it on the sign that's next to our emergency overnight phone," Chief Potter pointed out.

Effective June 27, the Huntersville Police switched dispatch services from the North Mecklenburg 911 Communications Center in Cornelius to CMPD, which is cheaper.

But some residents are still calling the old number.

In one call, a caller is confused.

"I thought I called directly to the HP -- Huntersville Police Department," he said.

The dispatcher patiently tried to explain the changeover.

"The Huntersville police is still your police department," she said. "It's just -- we don't dispatch for them anymore."

But after two minutes, he gets frustrated.

"I can give you the 10-digit number, and I can transfer you over myself," she suggested.

"No, just never mind," the caller said. "I just won't bother to try to be a good citizen anymore. Thank you very much."

Another caller is directed to call 311 for animal control instead of 911, and a third caller is transferred to CMPD but gets put on hold, hearing a message that states, "Please do not hang up. This is the 911 emergency line. The operator will be with you as soon as possible."

"They said, 'Please do not hang up. This is the 911 emergency line.' What kind of message is that?" the caller asks someone in the background.

CMPD said the hold message "occurs infrequently and only when the number of incoming calls exceeds the numbers of call-takers on 911."

Chief Potter says he's certain the bumps will be worked out in this transition period. But he said he wants to make people are calling the right number in the first place.

He's checked all their forms and the Huntersville Police website.

But on the website for the North Mecklenburg 911 Communications Center, Huntersville Police is still listed as one of the participating agencies. Further down on the webpage, the after-hours business number listed for all the agencies is the number for the center in Cornelius.

When Eyewitness News asked the Cornelius Police Department about the old number still being posted for Huntersville, they said: "The North Mecklenburg 911 page is going to be taken down and [Cornelius Police] Chief [Bence] Hoyle and Chief Potter are working together to get the word out" about the new numbers.

Chief Potter said there's a simple fix. If Huntersville residents need police for any reason or animal control, just call 911.

"Obviously, the resolution of the matter is not using that phone number," he said.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Davidson Police Department, which switched dispatch services from the North Mecklenburg 911 Center to CMPD in 2004.

"My officers that were here at the time think very highly of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg dispatch," Davidson Police Chief Jeanne Miller said. "They are very supportive of us being there."