Changes coming to Detroit's 911 system

Residents report high-pitched tones blasting eardrums

DETROIT – Detroit's 911 system is a very busy one, but Local 4 has received complaints from some Detroiters who say the system has become confusing and difficult to use.

For many callers, if they don't immediately get an operator when calling 911, they get a recording and some high-pitched tones that blast their eardrums.

The system is confusing residents.

Calling the cops after witnessing a crime or an accident in Detroit comes with its own set of problems. The DPD has improved response times, but the phone experience is often difficult in that if too many calls come in at once, callers wind up with a recording.

Assistant Chief James White says that can happen often.

"Three thousand calls a day between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m." White said. "You can wind up in a cue."

The cue asks callers to wait and then sends ear-splitting tones.

As a prompt for deaf Detroiters to use what are called TDD machines, or telephone devises for the deaf, the complaints that came to Local 4 say the tones are too loud and, in an emergency, leave them believing they aren't going to get any help.

White said he wants to look into the problem.

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