When Should I Call the Police?

Should I call 9-1-1, or Crime Stop?

More often than questions about neighborhood crime, these are the questions I am asked the most as a Community Officer. The first is easy for me to answer, and that is when you see something you believe needs Police involvement or attention. Sometimes you may be looking at a person or situation and wonder if your call to Police would be a bother, thinking perhaps “The Police have so much to do. I don’t want to bother them with this”. Please, if you have an instinct about a person or situation that prompts you to think about calling 9-1-1 or Crime Stop, do it.

When you call

The 10 W’s

The 9-1-1 / Crime Stop call takers receive hundreds of hours of training, and the first thing an operator will ask you is Where you are. The majority of telephone users now have cell phones, and contrary to popular belief, we do not know where your phone is GPS locating. We also ask when you are calling from a landline, in order to verify the address and promote consistency.

The next important step is What happened, and When did this happen. We need this information for proper prioritization. You may be calling with crime in progress information that will immediately initiate a priority one response, or reporting something that happened hours ago that does not need immediate attention.

The next questions involve safety and severity of the issue you are calling about; Was anyone hurt, and Were any weapons involved. These questions provide a basis for alerting paramedics or Fire Dept personnel, and also safety information for responding Police Officers. We need to know what, if any, weapons are on scene or were used.

Finally, we need suspect or responsible person information. Where did the suspect go, and how did they leave? Who is the suspect? What did the suspect obtain/take? This will aide in immediate and future follow up. Lastly, we need to know who you are, the caller: Who is calling?

These 10 W’s, are the basis for 9-1-1 call takers training, in order to obtain as much critical information from you, in a short time. Occasionally, people under great stress and anxiety call into 9-1-1 and simply begin blurting out information. The operator will do their best to calm the caller, but will also listen intently for those pieces of information that responding officers need. Keep these questions on your mind while looking at a person, vehicle, or situation, when you are considering calling Police.

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