Cop Talk - When should I call 911?If you are traveling away from this area and need to report a non-emergency, it may be necessary to call 911, as you may not be able to locate the number for local law enforcement, or may not know which agency to call. If that is the case, call 911 and tell the emergency operator/dispatcher that this is not an emergency and explain why you called 911.
By: By Alexandria Police Officer Tony Kuhnau, Alexandria Echo Press
Q: When should I call 911?
A: Many times, people are not sure when to call 911 and when not to. They also are not sure what number to call if it is not an emergency.
If you want to call and speak with the Alexandria Police Department, call (320) 763-6631. The person that answers the phone will be able to have an officer get in touch with you, or direct you to the person you need to contact.
If there is an emergency that you want to report, that is the time to call 911.
What is an emergency? One dictionary defines an emergency as an urgent need for assistance. Some examples of emergencies are: medical emergencies, fires, missing persons, motor vehicle crashes, assaults, robberies, burglaries, smell of natural gas, in-progress calls and other situations. This list is not all inclusive, but should give a good idea of what an emergency is.
Another question is, what is not an emergency? Questions someone has about a law or ordinance, calling to look for other information, schedule an appointment, report a lost or missing animal, or report something that is not in progress, but a police officer is needed. This list is also not inclusive, but gives a good idea of what is not an emergency.
If you are traveling away from this area and need to report a non-emergency, it may be necessary to call 911, as you may not be able to locate the number for local law enforcement, or may not know which agency to call. If that is the case, call 911 and tell the emergency operator/dispatcher that this is not an emergency and explain why you called 911. They may take your information, or ask you to call back on a specific regular number. Try to be aware of where you are when you call. That might mean what roadway you are on, what intersection you are at, or a mile marker you are near.
Whether you call 911 or the regular telephone number, here is some information that is important to know and be able to pass along to the dispatcher: Your name, telephone number, what is happening and the location of the incident. Stay on the line with the emergency operator/dispatcher until he or she tells you it is okay to disconnect. Also, be prepared to answer a phone call back from the emergency operator/dispatcher.
Sometimes, while officers are on the way to the scene of an incident, they may need more information and the dispatcher may need to call back to gather that information.
Next, if you accidentally dial 911, don't hang up before talking with the dispatcher. Stay on the line and when the phone is answered, tell them you unintentionally dialed 911 and that there is no problem. The dispatcher may ask a few questions, but then they will let you know the call can be ended. If you do hang-up before speaking with a dispatcher, they will try to call you back and will send a police officer to where you are to determine if there is an emergency or not. It is better for everyone involved if you just stay on the line and explain it was a misdial.
If you have any questions you would like answered in "Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department," e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (320) 763-6631.
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The Alexandria Police Department and the Echo Press have teamed together to create “Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department.” Each article will feature an answer to a question from a reader, a safety tip or some timely topic.