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Calling the Police

Calling the Police

  • The police respond to a wide range of threats and emergencies--including, criminal activity, accidents and illnesses, terrorism, natural disasters, dangerous conditions, disturbances of the peace and domestic violence.  
  • Community safety and security requires cooperation between citizens and the police. The Police need and value all assistance.
  • Reaching the police is easy. 
  • If you do not see a policeman or a police car, call 911.
  • Do not guess about the threat or emergency. Call 911.
  • If a policeman is hurt or is in trouble, do not assume the police know about it. Call 911. 
  • Never make a prank or joke call to 911 (for example, engage in "swatting"). Both the police and citizens have been seriously injured because of false calls. It is also a crime to knowingly make a false report.  
  • If possible, call the police from a safe and quiet place.
  • Remember: all police calls are taped. Use appropriate tone and language.
  • Whether you are speaking directly to an officer or on the telephone--stay calm and speak slowly.
  • Begin with the nature of the emergency and why assistance is needed. (For example, a fight, an individual with a weapon, a robbery, a suspicious package, an injured person, etc.)
  • Immediately identify if anyone is hurt and whether anyone might have a weapon.
  • Have the exact location/address and any nearby landmarks.
  • Be ready to give a description of any individuals involved. (For example, the number of people, sex, heights, weight, build, age, skin complexion, clothing, car model/color/license plate.)
  • Do not worry about the accuracy of description--just give your best effort.
  • Listen carefully and follow the instructions of the officer or police operator. 
  • Do your best to answer all questions.
  • If a person is in need of medical assistance, a medical operator may give you directions until an ambulance arrives.
  • Don't hang up on the call until you are told to do so.
  • Keep all evidence you may have in a safe and secure place--including photos, videos and recovered objects--and inform the police as soon as possible. (You may do this directly or later through a lawyer). 
  • You do not have to worry about the value of your information or that a long period of time may have passed since an event. The police will appreciate your assistance. 
  • To make a report to the police, you do not have to give your name, phone number or other identifying information. This information, however, can be useful, in case the police have any questions, need your further assistance, have a reward or want to express their thanks for your public service.
  • If you see something, say something. Do not worry about making a mistake. Call 911.

The content conveyed in this app does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. It also is not intended to communicate all relevant information. Other sources on this subject may prove to be helpful, including local police departments, district attorneys, public defenders’, the U.S. Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Design and technology contributed by Genome.