When It's Appropriate to Call 911

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911 is designed for emergency use. Only use 911 if you have an emergency or a problem that require immediate assistance from Law Enforcement Agencies, Fire Departments, or Emergency Medical Services. For non-emergency inquires, please call the Department using the contact information on our homepage.

Examples of emergency situations (Call 911):

  • Someone breaking into your home now or one of your neighbors' homes
  • Shootings
  • Fires
  • Traffic accidents
  • Fights in progress or displays of weapons
  • Any medical emergencies

Examples of non-emergency inquires that pertain to the Police Department (Call one of our non-emergency numbers):

  • Billing information
  • Business questions
  • Contacting a Police or EMS employee
  • Loud parties
  • Vandalism

Examples of non-emergency inquires that do not pertain to the Police Department:

  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Barking dogs
  • Directory assistance
  • Power outages
  • Telephone repair

Questions to Expect When You Call 911

  • What is your location?
  • Who is involved?
  • What number are you calling from (in case the call is dropped – especially if you are using a cell phone)?
  • What is your emergency (what are you reporting)?
  • If you are reporting a medical emergency, the dispatcher will ask you questions regarding the injured or sick person. Be assured that while they are asking you questions, another dispatcher in the room is sending the paramedics to your location and engaging emergency medical dispatch.
  • If a crime is involved, and you saw or can see a suspect, be prepared to give a description:
    • Sex, race, age, height, weight, hair color/length, color of eyes
    • Clothing – hat/cap, jacket/coat, shirt, pants, shoes
    • Other pertinent information such as scars, marks, tattoos
    • Vehicle description if necessary, which can include license plate number, color, year, make, model, style, two or four-door, how many occupants, and other features that stand out, such as dents, stickers, missing parts, etc
    • Last known direction of travel of suspect (s) and/or vehicle(s)

Dispatchers have the difficult task of quickly assessing a call and gathering large amounts of information for responding personnel. To provide police officers, firefighters, and ambulance personnel with as much information as possible, dispatchers ask a lot of questions, which can vary depending on the type of call.

In emergency situations, callers can get frustrated by the number of questions because they are concerned that it causes a delay in personnel responding to the call. Callers sometimes do not understand why dispatchers need certain information. It is important to remember that, most often, as the dispatcher is getting information from you, it is being sent to another dispatcher who initiates the call to emergency personnel and provides them with updated information. Remaining calm and answering the questions asked by the dispatcher helps ensure the most appropriate, quickest and safest response by emergency responders. 

Stay calm. It's important to take a deep breath and not get excited. Any situation that requires 911 is, by definition, an emergency. The dispatcher knows that and will try to move things along quickly, but under control.

Do not hang up the call until directed to do so by the dispatcher.

The dispatcher also needs to know if you are going to be at, or near, the scene when emergency services arrive, because the first responders may need to talk with you. They may also ask you what kind of car you are in or what color clothing you are wearing so that first responders can easily locate you. If you do not wish to make yourself known, this is fine. When the dispatcher asks for your name, simply state that you do not wish to identify yourself.