Police will defer lock-out calls to on-call locksmiths

AP

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People who dial 911 when they're locked out of their homes or vehicles shouldn't expect police to respond after Jan. 1, unless there is an emergency.

The Columbia Police Department said in a Friday news release that most people who make lock-out calls to Boone County Joint Communications after Sunday will be given a phone number for an on-call locksmith.

Police will respond only if there is an emergency, such as a child being locked inside a home or vehicle.

The idea behind the change is to give officers on patrol more time for higher priorities.

"We are trying to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our officers by freeing them up from some of these calls," Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter, commander of the Patrol Bureau, said in the news release.

"This will be more efficient for citizens as well. Their only wait time will be for a locksmith, as opposed to an officer and then a locksmith."

The news release said the change represents a collaborative effort between police and Joint Communications.

In 2017, police were dispatched to more than 250 lock-out calls, and those often ended with the officers summoning a locksmith to the scene.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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