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Policing Alternative Diversion Initiative Partnering With 311 For Non-Emergencies

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- City officials are reminding residents 911 is not the number to call for non-emergency situations. ATL 311 is partnering with PAD, the Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative, to cut down on arrests and provide resources to those in need.

Atlanta native Ruby-Beth Buitekant says she was out running some errands when she met someone asking for help. "She had recently lost her housing, and she had her young child with her who was under the weather. She was just asking for resources, if I had any money, if I had any ideas of places to go," said Buitekant.

As a new mom herself, Buitekant wanted to do what she could. She called the city's non-emergency line 311, where an operator connected her with PAD. "I made a referral. I said what I had experienced and the location. The next day, I got a phone call saying that they had in fact sent somebody out there. They had found her right away," she said, indicating the woman got the help she needed.

ATL 311 Commissioner Myesha Good is hoping neighbors in similar situations will do the same, instead of calling 911. "This is an avenue for City of Atlanta residents to call us to request assistance with concerns related to mental health, substance abuse or extreme poverty," said Good.

"The partnership with 311 really allows us to get our responders out there, to have those conversations with community members, to identify what people may need, to get the connected to resources without any police involvement at all," said PAD Executive Director Moki Macias.

Officials say the partnership between 311 and PAD helps police scale back on arrests and better respond to crimes. "It feels like what we actually need, which is more productive solutions," said Buitekant.

"We're able to address folks' immediate needs, whether that is you are hungry, you need some shoes, you need a safe place to sleep for the night," said Macias.

If you live in Atlanta, you can reach 311 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. Outside the city, you can dial 404-546-0311. ATL311 is also hiring. For more information, click here.

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