Residents wanting to know about today's Christmas parade, trick-or-treat, fireworks or other big Salem events should call a new recorded information line at 330-332-4241 ext. 300 to get the basics.
Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott explained that every time there's some type of event in town, people constantly call his police dispatchers asking about the time, whether it's still happening or which way a parade will travel.
On Halloween night this year, they received more than 100 calls from people wanting to know if trick-or-treat was canceled due to the weather.
"That ties up the emergency lines," Panezott said. "Obviously our dispatchers want to help and want to provide information, but their priority is the officers on the road and taking emergency calls."
A tip about the new information line was placed on the Salem Police Department's Facebook page, which is updated on a regular basis with information about snow emergencies, inclement weather, Salem events, police news releases and stories pertaining to crimes and the police department.
He pointed out that members of the public need to call that information line for the basic facts about the larger events in the city instead of calling the police line.
The current message highlighted the city's light-up night, which ended up canceled due to the weather, and today's parade, which is still scheduled. The message includes the parade route and the fact that Santa Claus will be available for visits at Consumers Bank after the parade.
The number at 330-332-4241 is the phone number for city hall. When the recording comes on, hit extension 300 for the recorded message.
The parade begins at 1 p.m., traveling south on North Lincoln Avenue, turning west on East State Street through downtown, then turning north on Ellsworth Avenue. Besides Santa Clause, SAM the safety squirrel will be giving out coloring books at the bank, located on Ellsworth Avenue.
Panezott said the dispatchers are not being rude if someone calls the police department about an event and the call is transferred to the recorded information line. Dispatchers serve as a safety line for officers out on the street, knowing where the officer is at all times and providing them the information they need for an emergency call.
Panezott said they'll evaluate use of the information line to see how it helps the call volume. For residents who use Facebook, information will also appear on the police department's Facebook page under City of Salem Police Department.