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What to Expect When Calling 9-1-1

Long Beach Communications Center personnel receive hundreds of calls each year and public safety dispatchers are responsible for quickly gathering pertinent information and dispatching emergency personnel. Oftentimes, callers experience frustration when a dispatcher asks a series of questions, rather than listening to the caller's story. In an effort to educate potential callers as to what to expect when calling 9-1-1, sample questions are provided below.

Where is the problem or where are the police needed?

Callers may also be asked "Where did the incident happen?" "Where is the victim now?" "Where is the suspect now?" "Where is the weapon that was used?" Locations are important because emergency personnel need to locate and contact involved parties.

What is happening or why are you calling?

Knowing the nature of the situation allows dispatchers to direct appropriate resources.

When did it happen?

Clarifying if a crime is in progress, just occurred or if significant time has passed assists in prioritizing every call.

Is anyone injured?

If someone is in need of medical attention, paramedics will be dispatched. Every second counts when someone's life is at stake.

Suspect/Victim/Vehicle Information

Suspects don't usually wait for police to arrive, so it's important for responding officers to have information while they are driving to the scene.

Suspect/victim description: gender, race, age, height, weight, color of their clothing and any special indicators such as tattoos, glasses or facial hair - This information assists officers in determining the suspect from the victim.

Vehicle description: color, year, make, model, license plate and any special indicators such as, bumper stickers, broken windows or body damage to the vehicle

Are any weapons involved?

For everyone's safety, it's imperative that information involving weapons is provided. Callers will be asked to describe the weapon(s).

Caller Identification/Contact

Dispatchers will ask callers to provide their name, address, phone number, and whether the caller would like to be contacted. Callers have the right to remain confidential. Callers should advise the dispatcher if they are available by phone. Occasionally, officers need additional information or clarification and the dispatcher will phone the caller and/or suggest the caller meet the officer at a safe location. LBPD will make every effort to respect the caller's request to remain confidential.

Important information:

  • The same public safety dispatcher answers both the 9-1-1 lines and the seven-digit telephone lines (562-435-6711) in the call center. If it's an emergency and police are needed at your location, dial 9-1-1. To ask a question, seek advice about a police related topic, or request extra patrol while away on vacation, dial 562-435-6711.
  • Dispatchers may refer callers to another Police Department section for assistance, i.e. certain reports may be taken over the phone, booking information, requests for copies of crime reports, to speak with a detective after a report has been filed.
  • Calls for police service are prioritized based on the severity of the crime, available units, and volume of calls. "Priority one" is the highest priority and officers respond with "lights & sirens" in an effort to arrive quickly.

Long Beach Public Safety Dispatchers play a critical role in the criminal justice system as the first fact gatherers in an evidentiary chain that may lead to the arrest and conviction of an individual. They are well trained to quickly and efficiently collect information from callers and appreciate your patience and understanding when calling 9-1-1.