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Why do dispatchers ask so many questions?

As a citizen, you are the eyes and the ears of your police department. You can provide the police department with much needed information. Below is a list of items that are necessary for relaying good information to responding police units. 

What?
What is happening? What kind of incident is taking place? Is it an accident, a parking problem, a burglary or another type of incident?

Where?
Where is the incident occurring? Street  address? Is it an apartment or a house? On the street? Near what cross street or address? What business on what street and what address?

When?
When did the incident occur? Is it occurring now, did it just happen or did it happen ten minutes ago, two hours or yesterday?

This is the basic information that a dispatcher needs to start a unit responding. Be prepared to answer any other questions that the dispatcher might ask and get right to the point when you call. When a vehicle or person is involved in the incident, the dispatcher will usually need information about them.

Personal description
Start with sex, race, and approximate age of the subject. Then start describing the physical features and clothing from the head down to the feet.

Vehicle description
Start with the type of vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle) then give the make, model and approximate year. The color should be given next starting with the top and then bottom. (Red over black means red roof/black body).

Direction of travel of the vehicle or subject
If the vehicle or person has left the scene, the telecommunicator will need to know the direction of travel of the vehicle or suspect. Which direction? On what street? How, on foot or in a vehicle?

Your name, address, and phone number
We need this information so that if we have further questions or the officer does, you can be contacted. If you wish to remain anonymous that is your right, just advice the dispatcher of that fact when they ask for your name. On occasion, you might be asked to remain on the line while the dispatcher gets units responding to the call. Please do! This way you can give more information on the call.

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