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Constrained Gatekeepers of the Criminal Justice Footprint: A Systematic Social Observation Study of 9-1-1 Calltakers and Dispatchers
Justice Quarterly  (IF4.717),  Pub Date : 2020-10-18, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2020.1834604
Cynthia Lum, Christopher S. Koper, Megan Stoltz, Michael Goodier, William Johnson, Heather Prince, Xiaoyun Wu

Abstract

This study examines the gatekeeping role that public safety communication specialists (911 calltakers and dispatchers) play in the criminal justice footprint using systematic observations of one of the largest public communication centers in the U.S. Findings indicate that public safety communications professionals can play a significant role in initially shaping the criminal justice footprint, and can help to prevent that footprint from growing. However, organizational constraints, liabilities, and rules, as well as the expectations and beliefs of citizens and activities of police officers, can also inhibit this gatekeeping function. Recent assertions that citizen calls for public safety services might be easily diverted or prevented to reduce this footprint rely on significant changes to several policies, practices, and assumptions that have yet to be easily realized.