Emergency 911

Cops attend calls which are relayed to them by dispatchers. Some are emergency 911 calls where people's lives are threatened or in danger.

When Officers arrive at these calls , they must assess the scene to determine the dangers to themselves as well as civilians.

This includes civilians directly involved in the call as well as civilians who may wander unknowingly into the area.

In emergency 911 calls like these, officers will have to:

-Assess for dangers to themselves and the public

-cordon off the area if needed and maintain an outer perimeter (preventing people from entering the general area)

-maintain an inner perimeter to prevent individuals already in the general area from getting too close to the scene itself

-provide as much relevant info as possible to dispatch and other officers who are attending the scene.

-Deal with the threat/incident itself.

-Advise of any injuries or medical help if required

-Provide any description of any outstanding suspect if there is one.

Depending on the call, and the area where it is taking place, it can be a three ring circus.

There are various types of emergency 911 calls.

Some could be natural disasters such as earthquakes, or they could be police emergency calls which are directly related to a criminal element.

You will find that people's reaction to, and cooperation with the police, will vary depending on what the circumstances are.

Imagine being a cop in an area that has just had an earthquake. Buildings have gone down and homes have collapsed. There are injured people all over the place.

Many require medical attention. Others are trying to wander back into buildings or homes that are structurally unsafe and are at risk of further collapse, but it's possible that family/friends are trapped inside.

You are working as a team with the Fire Department, Medics, and are trying to prevent further injury and loss of life.

How do you stop people who are so concerned (and rightfully so) about their family, that they don't even recognize your authority because all they want is to get to their loved ones?

You're completely outnumbered at this point by people who have no intent to commit a crime, but are in a panic to save their family.

Or do you even try to stop them, and help those who are already injured?

I really don't have an answer for this. But do you see what I mean when I say three ring circus?

Sure, you could spew out some training answer maybe, but close your eyes and try picking a busy location in the city that you live in.

Now imagine the scenario of buildings and homes, some collapsed and in flames.

Panic is everywhere and people are trying to get into areas that you know are too dangerous.

You and your fellow officers are spread out all across the city so you are undermanned. Now, deal with this situation with a simple training answer. YEAH, RIGHT...

You're going to have to think on your feet, and make some judgment calls.

You have people who are hurt, others who may be hurt and trapped, and others who are probably going to get themselves hurt.

All of them need and are asking for help...

Despite what TV shows tell you, it's never simple.


Another example of an emergency 911 call is the North Hollywood Police shootout that took place in 1997.

Two men, Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, entered a bank in North Hollywood, heavily armed with automatic rifles and full body armor.

When they tried to escape, a gunfight took place outside on the city streets.

At the time, LAPD officers on patrol were armed with .40 cal pistols, and 12 gauge shotguns. They did not carry rifles with them.

Because of this, Phillips and Matasareanu walked through the streets almost impervious to the shots fired by the Police (unit the SWAT team arrived.)

Officers on scene would have had to deal with outer perimeters and inner perimeters.

The outer one to keep civilians away from the area who didn't know what was happening. Inner perimeters to protect the ones who were already close and in danger and get them to evacuate.

The two suspects were mobile on their feet, and this posed a great problem as the crime scene kept changing to various locations.

One of the suspects got into a car and drove through the streets making it difficult to maintain a perimeter.

As you can see at around the 1 minute mark of the following video, civilian cars drive into the area through side streets, completely unaware that they are wandering into danger.

An emergency 911 call like this is high stress and extremely dangerous for obvious reasons.


Obviously calls of an emergency 911 nature need to get dispatched ASAP. How does this happen?

First off, a caller will dial 911 and get the ball rolling. 911 can be called free of charge (even public phone booths although public phones are dying out).

The call is received by a dispatcher and it gets streamed to either fire, paramedics or police depending on the nature of the emergency.

In the case of police related emergency 911 calls the info is taken by the police dispatcher, prioritized and dispatched to officers who respond.

Sometimes there are cases of emergency 911 "hang ups", where the person who called just hangs up without speaking. Officers will still get sent to the location to check it out to see if everything is ok.

Regardless of the hang up, 911 systems provide the caller's address and it is not necessary for the address to be given verbally. Blocked and unlisted numbers are also visible.

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