911 centers: With social distancing in effect, some people call to complain about crowds

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some 911 centers in North Carolina are receiving a few more phone calls – from people complaining about gatherings that could violate state and local stay-at-home orders.

CBS17.com spoke to several public safety officials who confirmed those calls came in during the days after either their respective counties or the state issued proclamations prohibiting groups of varying sizes in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“I know that several agencies had to publish out things on Facebook – don’t call 911 for questions, call 211,” said Grayson Gusa, chapter president of the North Carolina Association of Public Safety Communication Officials.

Gusa says those calls have “leveled off, to an extent” as North Carolinians grew more familiar with the new guidelines. The statewide stay-at home order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper took effect Monday after several cities and counties took similar action last week in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Those agencies (that previously issued orders) weren’t inundated with calls (but) other localities that did not do anything until the governor issued his order, they were flooded with calls that one day,” Gusa said.

He said one center in the state took calls from people concerned about children playing in a city park.

“So I know calls are taking place,” he said. “I feel like they have leveled off a little bit – compared to the first day, at least.”

The 911 center in Cary received six calls on the first full day after Wake County’s order took effect about gatherings on public and private property, said Deanna Hawkes of the Town of Cary’s public safety department.

She said officers were dispatched in response to some of those calls to raise people’s awareness of the order and the types of permissible gatherings.

In Harnett County, public information officer Aaron Meredith said the center received “very few” calls last week about potential noncompliance “but those calls have stopped.”

Officials in Johnston County said eight calls came in roughly a week from people asking an officer to check on what they considered to be a gathering.

And Guilford County has set up a website where people can file complaints about violations.

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