911 Do's and Don'ts

Important Safety Issues

  • When a 911 call is received from a phone other than a cell phone your name, address and phone number is displayed as the phone company reports it, so please be sure to verify all the information with the 911 operator/dispatcher.
  • Cell phones that are pre-programmed to dial 911 take a lot of time away from the 911 operators after you have accidentally dialed, either by dropping the phone or sitting on it. While we are answering your accidental phone call, someone who has an emergency will be unable to get through.

When to Use 911

Call the emergency line to report an incident that requires immediate assistance of Police, Fire or EMS personnel. Give exact location and details of any injuries or deaths. If you are reporting a crime, pay particular attention to the suspect's physical characteristics; height, weight, hair color, clothing. If a vehicle is involved, give a clear description of the color, make, body style, license plate number and direction of travel. Do not attempt to apprehend or detain suspects.

911 Do's

  • Use 911 for the dispatch of Police, Fire and EMS.
  • Teach your children how to use 911 wisely in case of an emergency.
  • Use payphones to report crimes in progress. (A 911 call is free.)
  • Use your cell phone only to report an emergency. (Not as a convenience for a toll free call).

911 Don'ts

  • Don't call 911 when the power goes off or the weather is threatening. Call the utility that services your area, and monitor television and radio for weather information.
  • Don't call 911 to see how much a traffic ticket is or to check and see if someone is in jail.
  • Don't call 911 if your cat is stuck in a tree or on top of the house. Call your local animal control at (301) 499-8300.
  • Don't call 911 for directions.
  • Don't call 911 to report a crime such as a theft, burglary, use of credit card, or phone complaint unless these crimes are in progress or have just occurred.

The following are some but not all types of reports that should be called into the Public Safety Communications Center on the non-emergency phone number: 301-352-1200

  • Theft or Attempted Theft of or from an auto (unless in progress or just occurred)
  • Accidents (unless there are injuries)
  • Thefts of bicycles, lawnmowers or small items, when no suspects are in the area
  • Burglaries, if not in progress
  • Harassing phone calls
  • Noise complaints to include loud music
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