A law enforcement emergency is when immediate sheriff response is necessary to protect life and/or property. If a crime is actually occurring it is important that you tell the 9-1-1 dispatcher that the crime is in progress. Stay calm and answer any questions that the dispatcher may ask. If it is safe for you to do so, stay on the line. The dispatcher does not have to hang up in order to dispatch the police, fire, or ambulance. Continue to update the situation and provide current information.
What specific questions will I be asked when calling in a crime?
The 9-1-1 dispatcher is going to have to rely on your ability to describe what you see and hear so that they can relay it to the responding sheriff deputy. The dispatcher is going to want the following information and will be asking for it in the following order:
Describing a Person:
This method starts from the head and ends with the feet. Clothing descriptions are further broken down by describing attire from the outside layer and working inwards.
An example of a good description would be: White male, early 20’s, six foot, 200 lbs, red hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, black leather vest, white t-shirt, baggy blue jeans, black boots, scar over right eye, black star tattoo on left forearm.
Other Vital Questions
If a suspect is fleeing the scene you will be asked to describe direction of travel. This is why it is so important to remain calm. You need to be able to think clearly and provide concise and accurate information which the dispatcher can relay to field units.
If weapons are involved you will be asked questions to describe the weapons (i.e., knife, gun, rifle, lead pipe, etc.) and the dispatcher will want to know where the weapon is now.
Depending on the circumstances there could be numerous other questions asked (i.e., is anyone hurt?). Don’t get frustrated, don’t panic, don’t get impatient and just allow the 9-1-1 process to work for you. Remain calm. Listen to the questions being asked and try to answer them in a concise and clear tone.
Describing a Vehicle:
The acronym CYMBALS is the common method applied when describing a vehicle:
C – Color Example: Red. If two-toned then describe top color over bottom color i.e.: white top/red bottom.
Y – Year Example: 2005
M – Make Example: Ford
B – Body Style Examples: pick up, vehicle model
A – Additional Data Examples: Extended cab, 4dr, Decal on rear bumper “Have a Nice Day”, Front fender dented.
L – License plate Example: 123ABC
S – State Example: Nevada
If the suspect vehicle is leaving scene be prepared to provide direction of travel. If you don’t know if the suspect is headed in a north, south, east or west direction try to think what landmark they are headed towards, Example: Vehicle is headed towards downtown San Andreas from Mountain Ranch Rd. Do you know the street the vehicle is currently on? How about the nearest cross streets? Example: Vehicle is headed towards Valley Springs from San Andreas on Hwy 12.
Remain calm. Listen to the questions being asked and try to answer them in a concise and clear tone. Depending on the circumstances there could be numerous other questions asked (i.e., is anyone hurt?). Don’t get frustrated, don’t panic, don’t get impatient and just allow the 9-1-1 process to work for you.