"Is this an EMERGENCY?"

Making an emergency call

When you dial 9-1-1, or (510) 642-3333, or use a blue light phone to make your report, the dispatcher will ask you this question first. Do not downplay the importance of your call. Be prepared to answer the dispatchers next questions.

Crimes in progress or involving life threatening circumstances receive the highest priority response. 

  1. Is anyone's life or safety threatened?
  2. Does anyone need medical assistance or an ambulance?
  3. If you are reporting a crime, is the suspect still there? (If so, make sure the dispatcher knows this.)
  4. Does the suspect have a weapon? What kind?

For your safety, be prepared to answer all the questions the dispatcher asks you - and be specific. 

What police will want to know when you call 

Police need to know basic information about the crime. 

  • Where are you now?
  • Where did the crime happen?
  • If the suspects are gone, where did they go? In what direction?
  • Did they use a car or some other transportation? Did you get the license number?
  • What exactly happened or is happening? Describe the situation in complete detail. (e.g. "Someone has just broken my window and is inside my house...")
  • What are the suspect's physical characteristics? (race, sex, height, weight, hair color, etc.)
  • What was the suspect wearing? (distinctive colors or clothing?) Refer to this checklist to help spur your description.
  • When did the crime happen?
  • Is it still in progress? (This is very important - it may determine the level of response.)
  • Who are you?
  • What phone number are you calling from? (We may need to call you back)

Do not hang up
You may be put on hold while the dispatcher contacts emergency responders.