Saturday, November 01, 2008
911 Calls & Dispatch Priority
Q: I have wondered for a long time, especially in South Bend where you guys seem to be very busy, how does 911 prioritize calls? I assume that if there is a big call like a shooting, that takes priority over a drunk person, but I see so many officers on the news that seem to be at big calls- what happens when you are stretched thin because of these hot calls?

A: All calls requiring a police response are assigned a priority by the dispatch software and they type of call input. Priorities range from "1" to "9", "1" being the highest and "9" the lowest. While we understand that all callers believe their call is important, in the interest of public safety, we must have a method for determining what call should be dispatched first. While you are speaking to a call taker he or she is entering your information into a computer. This information is transmitted to the appropriate dispatcher who will in turn dispatch police to the required location.

Priority 1 or 2 calls require a police response and are generally dispatched immediately. As information is being obtained from callers of an "in progress" or "high priority" incident that information is simultaneously disseminated to the responding officers by the dispatcher.

Priority 3-5 calls are lower priority calls and may be have a considerable wait (up to an hour or longer for a police response), depending on call activity in the City at the time- especially in the case of the scene you describe in your question.

Priority 6-9 calls considered lowest priority and may be handled several ways. If an officer is sent and may only be required to drive through an area and make presence known, for example, if requested. Motor checks may be handled by a civilian volunteer officer (CVO), or a report with no suspect information may by just be a report by phone. A police officer is not dispatched to these calls, and you may be informed of same. Calls of this type are taken in the order they are received and require the caller to be available at a telephone.

Call back time where applicable is generally within the hour, depending on the call activity at the time. Reports fitting the criteria for telephone reporting are those that are not in progress, with no injuries, no suspects in the area, and no witnesses to be interviewed. Further, there must be no indication that a person is or will be in any immediate danger. Information for these type calls will be taken by the trained Public Service Officers (PSO) and forward to CID (Criminal Investigation Division), to be assigned to an investigator, as any other case. Taking these type calls by telephone allows us to keep police officers available for higher priority public safety calls and is often more convenient to the caller as well.

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posted by South Bend Police Department @ 10:35 AM  

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