Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Robert Schaefer


Lack of engagement in public service awareness education programs, coupled with reduced funding to implement a diversion system such as 311 systems or 10-digit phone numbers, contribute to 911 misuse. Many local governments have invested in alternative systems, but research regarding community members' use of 911 or alternatives relative to civic engagement is lacking. Guided by Gordon's conceptualization of civic engagement, this phenomenological study bridged the gap in knowledge by exploring community members' civic involvement and their use of 911 between 2012 and 2015 in a county in the state of Georgia. A snowball sampling strategy was used to select 5 community members who had used 911 to call for service. Data were collected through semistructured interviews. These data were inductively coded and then subjected to thematic analysis. Findings indicated that participants were not aware of the problems associated with 911 misuse, and they had limited knowledge of 911 call system practices and procedures from an operational standpoint. Participants believed that more awareness and education is necessary to educate and make community members aware of problems associated to 911 misuse and to inform community members of the nonemergency number. Positive social change may be achieved through local governments implementing public awareness campaigns about appropriate 911 use. These efforts may result in improvements to public safety through better response to critical emergency events.