Residents see delayed response using 311

With acts of terrorism on the rise, local authorities continue to tell Central Texans "If you see something, say something."

But, what if you see something suspicious, call to report it and don't get a response for weeks.

That is what several people in South Austin say happened to them.

Residents of the Cherry Creek neighborhood are always looking out for each other, to make sure they don't fall victim to any crime.

"There was two of them parked there at once," says Freddie Shirrell, resident.

So when two suspicious vehicles were abandoned on the street, up to five neighbors called 311.

"The engine and everything was inside of the vehicle," says Shirrell.

"Neither one of them had a current license. One of them had no stickers on the window and they were locked, dirty and had junk inside," says Audrey Gorr, resident.

Audrey Gorr called more than once.

"They say that when you call, if you want a response from them, then you should leave your number. I did that but I still didn't get a response," says Gorr.

It was more than three weeks later when police finally came to check things out.
The cars were later removed.

"An abandoned car - it just seems like it would draw criminals into the area. You don't know what's going on. That's kind of the scary part, you don't know what's going on. The age that my husband and I are, you just wonder if they were kind of casing the place out," says Gorr.

These days, the public is constantly being told "If you see something, say something."

Austin Police say in the cases where terrorist acts have been prevented, it's been largely due to people reporting that something just doesn't look right.

So we asked Lt. Matthew Greer why it took them so long to respond to the suspicious car situation.

"Absolutely. Anytime something like that gets called in, we should be responding and checking that out. So I'm surprised that nobody showed up," says Lt. Matthew Greer, Austin Police Department.

This isn't the first time residents in that neighborhood have reported suspicious cars before.
One in particular that Freddie Shirrell says police found out was stolen. 

"He thinks that the car was traded for drugs and they just drove it to that point and left it," says Shirrell.

In 2001, the City of Austin began using 311 for police non-emergency calls.

They receive more than 1 million calls a year, leaving residents hoping they don't get lost in the numbers.

"Well I think there should be a faster response when, several people especially, call on the same issue and it's been happening more than once. They should maybe be on the look out," says Gorr.

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