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Aurora 911 dispatchers inundated with calls, threats due to Elijah McClain case

Hundreds of calls about Elijah McClain cause response delays
Aurora 911 dispatchers inundated with calls, threats due to Elijah McClain case
Posted at 8:43 AM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 10:43:02-04

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AURORA, Colo. -- Aurora's 911 Communications Center is being inundated with angry calls and threats regarding the Elijah McClain case, bogging down the call system and slowing down public safety response.

On social media, a call was put out to call the non-emergency line for Aurora police to speak out in the McClain investigation.

But Tina Buneta, Aurora's public safety communications director, said some calls are intended to disrupt.

One caller recently called 50 times in a row. Another ranted about "killing cops and dispatchers."

Yet another said this: "You dispatch for serial killers. Good luck telling the mob that comes to your home, 'I'm just a dispatcher. I just work for dispatch in the city.'"

It is not clear where the calls are coming from because many come from masked or blocked numbers.

"Calls like that can take an emotional toll on someone," said Buneta, who said the threats aren't the only thing taking a toll.

Buneta said the call center has had double the usual number of non-emergency calls in recent weeks, from about 600 to 800 to now 1,500 to 1,600 calls.

The problem, she said, is that the same people take emergency (911) calls also take non-emergency calls, which also cover public safety issues, such as home burglaries, stolen cars and car accidents.

"So with that influx of the non-emergency calls, we have really felt the delay of service to the Aurora community," said Buneta, who said answer times for emergency calls have also slightly increased. "And for us that's concerning."

The percentage of people hanging up before a call can be answered has also doubled, Buneta said.

For now, call takers are transferring complaint calls to an internal "community feedback" line established by the city for that purpose.

Despite the threats, Buneta said, her dispatchers are staying strong and ready to respond to emergencies in their community.

"Their calling to serve is still in tact, so this isn't going to shake us," she said.

Buneta said there is an alternative to the non-emergency line to make your voice heard.

You can call Access Aurora at 303-739-7000 or send an email to contactapd@auroragov.org.