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Reporting Emergencies

Emergencies include crimes that are in progress or about to happen, and ones that have resulted in serious personal injury, property damage, or property loss. They also include situations in which the suspect may still be at the scene and some suspicious activities. By calling 9-1-1 you will be linked to the appropriate police as well as fire fighting, medical, and ambulance services. You don't need money to call 9-1-1 from a pay phone. See Safety Tips for Parents to find out how to teach your children to use 9-1-1.

Examples of 9-1-1 Emergencies

Some examples of crime emergencies that should be reported by calling 9-1-1 are:

  • Fights, sexual assaults, etc.
  • Homicides
  • Burglaries and robberies
  • Flashlight beam in a business or home, especially if the business is closed or the residents are away
  • Domestic violence
  • Child and elder abuse
  • Sounds of gunshots, screaming, breaking glass, explosions, alarms, etc.
  • Hit and run accidents with possible injuries
  • Vehicles containing weapons or property not normally kept in vehicles
  • Ongoing dumping of fuel or other hazardous substances
  • Road hazards that require immediate attention to prevent personal injuries and property damage
  • Graffiti and other acts of vandalism in progress
  • Runaway juvenile or missing person who needs special care -- be sure to tell the operator if the person needs medication and has a special problem, e.g., Alzheimer's disease

Persons who are:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Entering a neighbor's home when the neighbor is away
  • Forcing an entry of a home, business, or vehicle
  • Exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms that poses a threat to him/herself or others
  • Removing property from a business, home, or vehicle, especially if the business is closed or the residents are away
  • Carrying or wearing bloody clothing
  • Struggling with a resisting child
  • Trying to or actually using a vehicle to pick up a person by force, especially a child or female

9-1-1 Calls from Wireless Phones

Several years ago, 9-1-1 calls from cellular phones were answered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). CHP, in turn, transferred calls that were not freeway related to the appropriate jurisdiction for a response. Since then, the State of California has mandated that cellular phone companies modify their technology to route calls to the appropriate agencies. The larger cellular phone companies have met the established standards and can now send their calls to any agency ready to receive them.

In June 2005, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) began receiving 9-1-1 wireless calls placed within the City limits except those made from freeways, which are still answered by CHP.

In order for this service to work properly, callers need to contact their service provider to determine if they have GPS ready phones. They also have to activate their telephone GPS settings in order for the GPS module to pass along the caller location. Citizens should contact their service providers for detailed instructions.

Caution: wireless callers should NOT assume that SDPD will receive their exact location. When making a 9-1-1 call from a cellular phone, they should stay on the line and advise the dispatcher where they are calling from. At this early stage, testing has shown the GPS data is NOT exact enough to ensure emergency personnel will be able to locate the caller.