If you have an emergency in Kenosha County, please dial 9-1-1. If you take away anything from this op ed, please know that. Most people are not shy to dial 9-1-1. This author was a 9-1-1 call-taker and dispatcher for a call center that served six police departments and two fire departments, taking non-emergency calls and 9-1-1 calls thousands of times. Many people abuse the 9-1-1 system for parking complaints or other frivolous issues. The reverse is also true. Something that many people don’t know, but those of us that have worked in the public safety field do know, is that many people call the non-emergency line for actual emergencies. Many people are hesitant and even nervous about calling 9-1-1. This author has taken hundreds of non-emergency calls from people with real emergencies, such as elderly people having severe chest paint, turning out to be suffering from a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Many calls on the non-emergency line from wives who were being beaten by drunk husbands. That is why a non-emergency line needs to be treated as an emergency line. Up until recently, it was in Kenosha County. Not it places alternate-side parking ahead of the need for police or EMS. If you google “Kenosha Police Non Emergency” or “Kenosha Sheriff Non Emergency” the result is the same, 262-656-1234. It’s an easy number to remember, for a specific reason. My old non-emergency line was 847-270-9111. See what they did there?
If you dial 262-656-1234 for the first time, you will not be on the line with a dispatcher, but a recorded message. It will take you 60 seconds or more to determine which button to press to talk to a dispatcher. You would think the very first option, one, would be for a dispatcher. Wrong. It’s the last, number seven. Let’s look at the options that were deemed more important than speaking with a live person:
- Reports, Open Records Requests, Records Department
- Jail Inmates
- Administrative Office for Kenosha Police, M-F
- Administrative Office for Kenosha Sheriff M-F
- Alternate Side Parking
- Paying Parking Tickets
- To Speak with Dispatcher and Get Help
Here is a video of me calling the non-emergency number today, 8-27-2022 (I said “5” and meant “7”) :
KCE emailed the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Sheriff, 9-1-1 Director, all County Board Supervisors, All Aldermen, The Mayor, City Administrator, 9-1-1 Board Chairman, The Mayor and the County Executive. So far no one wants to take credit for this very dangerous decision. Don’t worry, I will find out and let you know.
At the very least, the option for talking to a dispatcher should be moved up to number one. The best option would be to get rid of this disastrous new design meant to weed out people who call for benign reasons. 262-656-1234 should be answered by a live dispatcher, ready to send police or fire, PERIOD. This isn’t a DMV phone system. This is a lifeline for 200,000 people for f*** sake. We also have a 9-1-1 director, Josh Nielsen who’s poor leadership has forced a mass exodus of dispatchers, leaving our 9-1-1 center under-staffed. At best, the 9-1-1 board should fire Nielsen and fix the phone mistake.
If you have called the non-emergency line in the last few weeks and had help delayed, I want to know about it. Please call, text, or email me.
Kevin E. Mathewson