Friday, February 3, 2012

SPD: Trust your gut feeling when deciding to call 9-1-1

In a recent email, Terrie Johnston, the Seattle Police Department North Precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator, reminds residents that if they see something suspicious to call 911.

She said that too often they get calls later from people saying that they didn't know if they should call 911. By then it is too late for officers to investigate, she said. If it looks suspicious call 911.

The call at least gives officers a reason to contact the suspicious parties involved. She also said that the call taker can decide if your incident should be transferred off the primary line onto a secondary line.

(It should also be noted that when you call the non-emergency number it is usually the same dispatcher that would have answered if 9-1-1 was dialed)

Her email is below:

I think I speak for the entire Community Police Team when I tell you that every day in our e-mail inbox, or on our telephone’s voicemail inbox, we find messages from the community that say something like this, “I wanted to let you know that I just saw something suspicious…but I didn’t think this merited a 9-1-1 call."

Almost always the information is detailed, with good descriptions and refers to something that may or may not have been criminal, but certainly seemed odd. And almost always it is too late for SPD to do anything with that information.

I am now hoping to encourage you to trust that gut feeling of yours. If you get the sense that something weird is happening, even if it isn’t an emergency, please call 9-1-1 and simply state what you are reporting. The call taker will decide whether your call should be transferred off the primary line onto a secondary line. You don’t know what you prevent by getting a patrol cruiser coming into your neighborhood.

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