If you live in or around Charlotte North Carolina you might find it difficult to reach emergency personnel such as the Police. We were informed of this issue by a local resident in Columbia who had been trying to reach the Charlotte Police Department in order to have a well check done on a friend.
We chose to attempt to contact the Police Department our self’s using the internet and the numbers we found. To say the least we became very frustrated by this process.
We began by looking up the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and calling the number we found on the website. This number 704-336-7600 connected us with an automated service for the Charlotte Government Center. After listening to the long list of options we chose to press “2” which is supose to connect you with a non-emergency police line. What it did was connect us for a 23 minute hold before anyone ever picked up. Then the individual who picked up was not even Law Enforcement. It was a switchboard operator who would connect you with a department.
This service is called CharMeck 311 service. According to the Charlotte Government website this is the number one should call for non-emergency assistance.
CharMeck 311 serves as the customer contact center providing information and services for customers in the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. CharMeck 311 is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Residents can also submit service requests online 24 hours a day.
CharMeck 311 has approximately 113 full-time employees with an operating budget of $8.4 million.
Naturally anyone who has an actual emergency would call 911, but the question here comes for non-emergency situations or for people outside of the 911 response area.
Does CharMeck 311 actually serve it’s purpose by attempting to streamline communication between citizens and Government Departments? With a budget of $8.4 million you would imagine that the pick up time would not be 23 minutes and that they would actually be available for 24 hours service.
On the Charlotte Mecklenburg website there aren’t even any direct numbers to any of the agencies one might need, forcing people to use the 311 service.
As it so happens we were able to reach the Charlotte Police Department by a direct number within seconds of our calling. And were greeted by a more friendly voice than we received on the 311 service.
The question here is could the $8.4 million be spend better than on a service that places another roadblock when attempting to contact Emergency Services?
Government Call Centers such as CharMeck311 are used through the United States by local governments to reach offices in local government higharchy, but also give a direct phone number for most if not all of these departments, such as Law Enforcement and Fire Departments.
Here are a few numbers we found that are direct lines to some of the Departments:
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department: 704-336-3237
- Charlotte Fire Department: 704-336-3473
- MEDIC: 704-943-6200
- If you are unsure, dial: 704-336-3237
Naturally if you have an emergency dial 911.