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When to call 911?

Calling the police is always a good idea when you want to get involved in a crime prevention. But sometimes calling the police or other authorities is more than a good idea - it's a must.

Surprisingly, many people hesitate to call the police out of fear of getting involved, or of being identified, or even of fear of sounding silly or over-suspicious. But the police need and want your help in preventing crime.


You should call police when you:

  • Have an emergency and need police, fire, or medic response.
     
  • Need an officer to take a report (e.g., stolen vehicle, burglary).
     
  • See suspicious activity (people in the parking lot looking in cars; strangers loitering where you need to go and you feel frightened; you come home to an open door and you're afraid to go inside). If you have a "gut feeling" you should be talking to the police, call.
     
  • Would like a "welfare check" on someone who typically communicates with you and does not respond after several contacts.
     

Non-emergencies include noisy parties, barking dogs, abandoned or stripped vehicles, youths playing ball in the streets, fireworks, hot rods or mini bikes, parking and other minor complaints. For non-emergency situations call your local police department.

When you don't know or are in doubt, do not try to determine if you have an emergency; call 9-1-1 and let the dispatcher assist you.

When the 911 dispatcher answers, he/she will ask what you are reporting. If it's a non-emergency, say so, then answer the questions. Let the dispatcher lead the conversation, as they are looking for very specific information and need to keep lines clear and use the telephone time efficiently. They are most likely dispatching emergency personnel as you speak if the situation warrants.

Helpful Information

Enhanced 911 provides emergency operators with a computer display of the name, address, and the telephone number of the registered owner of the telephone being used for the call.

  • When you call the Telephone Company to have service installed, be sure to give your correct name and address. Your address may be verified by calling your local building or planning department. Also, notify your telephone company if this information changes.
     
  • The 911 operator will verify your location even though it may be displayed on the computer screen. Except in cases when a caller is unable to speak, the computer information is always verified.
     
  • Telephone number misdials can activate the numbers 911. If the caller hangs up, the 911 operator is required to call back and ensure no emergency assistance is needed. If there is no response, law enforcement will be dispatched.
     
  • Do you have a cordless telephone? Low batteries may activate 911. Check batteries regularly.
     
  • Are your address and telephone number posted near all telephones? In an emergency, they are easily forgotten, reversed, or unknown.
     
  • In an emergency, would your house number or mailbox be easy to read from the street, day or night? Your house number or mailbox are critical landmarks guiding police, fire or aid to your door.
     
  • Note that some phone connections, such as party lines, cellular, and some commercial telephone applications may not display subscriber information.

What to Do in a Medical Emergency

In a medical emergency, seconds count. Emergency personnel will be sent as quickly as possible. 911 personnel can offer specific instructions like CPR, Heimlich Maneuver, and childbirth to help until medical personnel arrive. To determine an appropriate emergency medical response, you may be asked:

  • The nature of the medical problem
     
  • The approximate age of the individual(s) involved
     
  • Whether the victim is conscious and/or alert
     
  • Is there any difficulty in breathing?

We Hope You Never Need 911, But If You Do

  • Stay calm. Don't get excited. Take a deep breath.
     
  • Speak clearly
     
  • State the problem you are reporting
     
  • Listen carefully to the questions asked and instructions given
     
  • Be prepared to answer the following:
     
    • Location of the problem
       
    • Your name
       
    • Phone number you are calling from
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Last modified: April 5,2013