What happens when you call 911?

  • Our 911 Call Taker enters the information you give into a computer.
  • Our computer-aided dispatch system assigns a priority to the call based on the type of call (burglary, shooting, etc.). Additional information you give can affect the priority.
  • A Dispatcher radios the information to a Police Officer in the field.
  • Additional information from you is sent to officers either by radio or computer. Details are vital, so remain calm and speak clearly.

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 gone)
Hold-up or panic alarm
Robbery (suspects gone 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. Loud Music
Residential or commercial burglary report (suspect gone)
Assault report
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