What happens when you call 911?

Why prioritize calls?

We answer hundreds of calls each day – everything from found property to attempted murder. Obviously, we must respond more quickly when a life is in danger than when only property is threatened. We have limited resources and must work numerous calls simultaneously; prioritization helps us effectively and efficiently use those resources. We make every effort to provide the highest level of police service at every call.

How are common calls prioritized?

The factors below are not rigid categories but guidelines used when determining the priority of 911 calls. Some of the most common calls are listed as examples.

Classification Factors Dispatch Method Examples

Immediate, emergency police response
 (lights and sirens)

Immediate threat to life.
Violent criminal act in  progress.
Violent incident just occurred and there is a likelihood of suspect apprehension.

Units sent immediately

Armed robbery
Sexual assault in progress

Immediate police response
  Criminal offense just occurred
Suspects are still in the area or just left the scene
Potential violence or imminent danger
Non-violent criminal offense in progress with suspects still on scene (example: someone vandalizing property, kids throwing rocks at cars)
Citizen’s arrest with suspect resisting (ex: shoplifter in custody causing problems)

Units sent immediately, if available. If no units are available in that beat, the dispatcher determines the closest available unit and sends that unit to the call.

Domestic disturbance
Physical altercation
Accident with injuries
Gunshots fired
Report of sexual assault (suspect fled)
Hold-up or panic alarm
Robbery (suspects fled or no weapon used)
Reasonable police field response
No offense is in progress
A delay in police response is not likely to result in a criminal offense
A delay is not likely to result in further injury, loss of property, or adversely affect investigation
No reason to believe suspect is on scene or in area
Citizen’s arrest with suspect not resisting.

The goal is to send the beat officer so he/she is aware of crimes in his/her area. If beat officer is not available, dispatcher may hold the call for up to 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, dispatcher will send an officer from another beat.

911 hang ups*
Shoplifter in custody/not resisting
Commercial or residential alarm
Runaway or missing person report
Suspicious person

As-available basis by the beat officer

A delay is not likely to adversely affect investigation
No change in physical evidence expected
Suspect description unknown¨ Suspect not near
Complainant is requesting contact
The goal is to send the beat officer. Dispatcher may hold the call for up to one hour, but will dispatch an officer from another beat if the beat officer is still unavailable after one hour. Residential or commercial burglary report (suspect fled) **

Other reports where suspect is not on scene**
Beat officer on a when- available basis
No complainant is waiting
Delayed investigation or report
Follow-up incident
 The goal is to send the beat officer. Dispatcher may hold the call for up to two hours, but will dispatch an officer from another beat if the beat officer is still unavailable after two hours. Found or abandoned property**
Lost property**

*About 911 hang-ups: Our policy is to respond to ALL 911 hang up calls. If you change your mind about needing assistance, stay on the line and explain that to the 911 Call Taker. Otherwise, an officer will be dispatched to your location to ensure that you are safe. Calling 911 when you do not need an officer puts those who need emergency assistance in danger and puts you in danger of being prosecuted for making a false report. For more information about 911 calls, click here.

 ** These reports can be taken over the telephone using Teleserve. Click here for more information.