SPOKANE, Wash. -- The future of Crime Check and other emergency services is in the hands of Spokane County voters.
Voters are being asked to approve Proposition 1 and renew an existing one tenth of one percent sales tax.
Crime Check is the number law enforcement usually asks people to call to help identify suspects, report non-emergencies like property crime, suspicious persons and noise complaints to name a few. Back in 2004 Crime Check went down when funding for it was cut.
“In the past when Crime Check went away a lot of those calls went to 911, which caused a burden on the 911 system, and a lot of the public struggled with, ‘This isn't an emergency, I need police assistance, where do I go?’" said 911 Operations Manager Amy McCormick.
Without Crime Check you could call the police department or the sheriff's office to report a non-emergency but the front desk is only open Monday through Friday during business hours. City officials said 65 percent of Crime Check's funding comes from the tax up for renewal in Proposition 1.
“The total annual budget for Crime Check is about $2.9 million,” said McCormick.
In 2016, authorities said Crime Check received 247,000 calls and wrote more than 56,000 police reports, that's about 676 calls a day. Officials said 911 received 294,000 calls in 2016.
There are often complaints from people who say they call Crime Check and nothing happens. Law enforcement said the reports are reviewed and help them identify crime trends even if no one responds to the scene when you call. When you call Crime Check, those calls end up in the exact same place as calls to 911.
"The 911 calls take priority and are presented before the crime check calls, but they're all answered by the same trained emergency 911 call receives because we do receive emergency calls on crime check as well as on 911," said McCormick.
Although the same people answer calls from both 911 and Crime Check, the two departments have separate budgets. They say that allows them to hire enough people to cover the more than 500,000 calls that come in each year to the call center.
If the tax isn't renewed, there is no plan yet for what would happen to Crime Check. Ballots are due by April 25th.
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