APD’s messaging on distinguishing between 311 and 911 calls sparks public uncertainty

Confusion Surrounds Messaging from Austin Police Regarding Jugging Incidents

AUSTIN, Texas – Recent messaging from the Austin Police Department (APD) has left some individuals bewildered. The source of the confusion can be traced back to a tweet discussing “jugging,” a criminal act where culprits follow and target victims who have recently withdrawn cash from a bank or ATM. Initially, APD advised jugging victims to contact the non-emergency line at 311, only to subsequently clarify that victims of robbery should instead call 911 for immediate assistance.

Prominent attorney Adam Loewy expressed his dissatisfaction with the mixed messages from the city. Loewy firmly believes that individuals facing armed robbery or jugging incidents should have the unequivocal right to call 911. He labeled the city’s recommendation to contact 311 as “abysmal” and highly concerning.

ATX Kind, an organization that collaborates with the city to enhance hate crime reporting systems, also voiced their concerns over the perplexing instruction. Co-founder Sharyn Vane remarked that the current situation is confusing for Austin residents who are unsure which route to follow when reporting crimes. Vane emphasized the importance of simplifying and streamlining the process to enable residents to efficiently report any incidents they encounter.

In response to inquiries from local news outlet FOX 7, APD attempted to clarify their position. According to the department, robbery is considered a crime against a person, whereas burglary pertains to crimes against property. APD made it unequivocally clear that callers should report robberies to 911, regardless of whether the crime is ongoing or has ceased.

Furthermore, the original APD post regarding jugging was intended to provide guidance for victims in general and was not exclusive to robberies. Jugging represents a form of theft that encompasses both robbery and burglary. This particular offense occurs when perpetrators trail a victim from a financial institution, targeting them at their next destination. If money is stolen from a vehicle and the crime is no longer in progress, individuals are encouraged to call 311 or file an online report. However, in cases where victims experience assault or threats during the “jugging” incident, they are considered victims of robbery and are advised to contact 911 immediately.

Amid an ongoing staffing shortage, APD has recently started diverting certain calls to the non-emergency line to manage their resources effectively. These instances include situations where the suspect has left the scene or when there is no immediate threat to life or property.

Attorney Loewy acknowledged the complexities arising from these changes but maintained that when it comes to robbery or felony crimes, individuals should have full faith in their ability to rely on calling 911. Conversely, Sharyn Vane of ATX Kind emphasized the need to eradicate confusion from the reporting system as nobody in Austin should be left wondering whether to dial 311, 911, or resort to online platforms. The current system’s complexity is causing unnecessary complications for residents seeking assistance and resolution.

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