I recently attended a meeting on “Active Shooters” hosted by the Snohomish County Business Watch (https://www.facebook.com/thescbw). One of the presenters from a local police department made a couple of observations about calling 911 that I think are relevant to homeowners also.
He pointed out that if you see something going on (that can be anything from suspicious activity, a burglary in progress to hearing shots being fired) don’t assume that someone else has called 911. Call 911 and let them know what you see or hear. If only one person calls about what you see, 911 personnel will have a limited idea of what’s going on and your situation may be given a low priority. If 911 receives several phone calls, from several people, about a situation, then it can receive a more complete picture of what is going on and will probably increase the priority in moving resources (more cops or fire trucks) to the situation.
When you call 911, the call taker will ask you questions as he or she is communicating with the police or fire dispatchers. Needless to say, giving as much accurate information as you can is always helpful. But, if you don’t know a bit of information (you could give a good description of a vehicle but missed the license plate) don’t be afraid of saying “I don’t know.” There is no stigma that you might not know everything that is going on. However, sometimes people will make things up in a mistaken belief that they are being helpful. Making things up only creates unnecessary confusion for police or fire agencies.
So, call 911 when you see something suspicious or a crime in progress. Your call could help a victim.