Manatee County launches non-emergency 311 service

The Manatee County emergency call center hopes to lighten its load as the county launches a new, non-emergency line for residents.

For every call answered by dispatcher Mike Turner, there's a good chance the caller is not in need of emergency assistance.

"We see so much of it that it’s kind of routine... We have people who’ve called up to ask what time it is. What the date is. Or just general complaints about service in a restaurant," he said. 

Every second spent on a random question is time lost for a real emergency. 

"Every time a 911 call taker is on the phone, they’re not available for somebody else to talk to them. It defiantly takes away from it," he said. 

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Manatee County plans to fix that with 311. The number will be active for some residents starting in October and the county hopes to be fully up and running my 2020.

Jake Saur the Director of Public Safety for Manatee County said 311 will allow anyone in the area to call for whatever they need - from hurricane evacuation questions to building permits. 

"The 311 concept was really developed through the Association of the Public Communication Officials and the FCC as another well-known number to kind of shunt non-emergency calls off the 911 system," said Saur. 

311 allows 911 dispatchers to solely focus on those in immediate crisis.

"311 will take that call, place it into our system and dispatch the right people out to fix that pothole or whatever your concern is," said Saur.