Program aims to teach residents when — and when not — to call 911

The Cal Poly Police Department and the state Governor’s Office of Emergency Services are teaming up to begin a pilot public education campaign that will strive to reduce non-emergency 911 calls.

The program is in response to new statewide research showing that nearly 25 percent of total calls to the state’s 911 system are non-emergency calls.

Those include nonviolent public disturbances, animal nuisances, power outages and requests for directions, according to William Anderson, interim manager of the state’s 911 Emergency Communications Branch.

The calls can tie up phone lines and slow response times for more urgent matters.

During the next few months, Cal Poly’s Police Department will conduct local outreach to educate the public about proper uses of the 911 system, including presentations at the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market.

The department also will distribute tip cards about who to call in situations that aren’t emergencies.

In 2013, more than 25 million 911 calls were placed in California; Cal Poly received more than 2,700.