Police Dispatch

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Jackie Pace, Communication Center Supervisor

The Redwood City Communications Center is the primary answering point for all 9-1-1 and non-emergency calls for police services in all incorporated areas of Redwood City.  The 9-1-1 center currently handles approximately 130,000 phone calls and processes in excess of 80,000 calls for service annually.

Police dispatchers are on duty in the 9-1-1 center 24 hours a day, every day of the year. All of the Redwood City police dispatchers are certified by the State of California and have extensive experience in handling police emergencies.  Requests for service are quickly classified and dispatched to the police officers in the field, or referred to other appropriate agencies or City departments. Communications dispatchers proudly serve as the lifeline and the link between the community and the police officers who respond to calls for service. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Calling For Police Services:

When Should I Call 9-1-1?

When you see a crime being committed.

When emergency medical assistance is needed.

When you see smoke or fire.

When someone’s life and/or property are in immediate danger.

When you are not sure, call & let a 9-1-1 dispatcher help you.

What Will the Dispatcher Ask You When You Call 9-1-1?

All callers are asked a standard set of questions which will help the dispatcher prioritize your call and will provide the responding personnel with information before their arrival.

Dispatchers are trained to try to get as much information as possible to best determine the nature of the problem. The information provided by callers can assist the officers in determining what they will need in order to keep others safe and out of harm's way.

The following are just some of the questions we may ask you:

We will ask you what happened and where the crime occurred.

We will ask you if anyone is injured, and if the injured person is in the same location. If the injured person is at a different address we will want to know where they are.

We will ask you if there are weapons involved.  If so, what kind?

We will ask you for a full description of the people involved in the incident.

            Race, sex, height, weight, clothing, hair color, facial hair, eyeglasses, hat, etc.

When giving information, don’t exaggerate or leave out information.  Give all the information that you have. For example: if you don’t mention that the suspect was wearing a red hat because you didn’t think it was important, you may be withholding the single most important identifier in apprehending the suspect.

We may ask you if the person was carrying anything.

We will ask you for all the involved vehicle descriptions and what direction they were going when you last saw them.

            Color, year, make, model, body, accessories, license number.

We may ask you if you know the people involved in the incident.

We will ask you to provide your name and phone number in the event the officers would like to contact you, but you do not have to provide it.

We may ask you to stay on the phone with us until officers arrive.

When calling 9-1-1, all you have to do is answer the dispatcher’s questions! Stay on the phone and answer the questions as calmly as you can. Sometimes it may sound as if the dispatchers are repeating themselves with the same questions, but you may give more detail the second time the question is asked. There may have been something you’ve forgotten earlier. We know how stressful an emergency situation can be; try to remain calm when giving information.

An emergency response WILL NOT be delayed by answering the above questions. In most instances, assistance will be dispatched while you are still on the phone. By answering the dispatcher’s questions, the dispatcher can relay important information to the units responding prior to their arrival. This increases the chances of a successful outcome to the call.

What about Dialing 9-1-1 in a Major Disaster?

There may be a delay in receiving a dial tone on your phone and it could take several seconds to connect, please wait before hanging up and trying again.      

If you have internet access, continue to monitor the police department’s social media feeds such as Facebook and Twitter. 

Please tune in to the emergency broadcast station on your radio for information and updates rather than calling the police or fire departments.  The less the phone lines are use, the more service there will be for emergency help.

During a disaster the electricity usually fails. Do NOT call 9-1-1 to find out when the power will go back on.

There is no way to tell in advance if the 9-1-1 screens in the dispatch center will be functioning correctly in a major emergency so be prepared to give the dispatcher all information.

What If I Accidentally Dial 9-1-1?

DO NOT HANG UP! Tell the dispatcher that you dialed 9-1-1 by mistake and that you do not need emergency help. This is particularly important if you dial from a business phone with several phone lines. Any time the police dispatcher receives a 9-1-1 "hang-up" the caller must be contacted to be sure that no actual emergency exists. If your

business has dozens or even hundreds of phone lines it may be impossible for the dispatcher to determine who, if anyone, needs help and an officer may be dispatched to the address.

Are Pay Phones Any Different?

You may dial 9-1-1 for an emergency from any pay phone without needing any coins. The phone number and location of the pay phone should show up on the 9-1-1 screen.

What If I Don’t Speak English?

9-1-1 allows emergency calls to be transferred to an interpreter who can translate other languages. Interpretation is accessible from every telephone: home and business phones, coin-operated and phones equipped with TTYs (Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing).

Each 9-1-1 station at the Communications Center is equipped with a TTY machine. To access TTY or TDD, press the space bar until a response is received.

Other Things to Think About...

Make sure your address and phone numbers are posted by the phone(s) so they can be read by anyone using the telephone in an emergency. In times of emergency, even those who have lived in their houses for 20 years have been known to forget their information.

Make sure your house number is visible at night from the street and is clearly posted where your driveway joins the main road.

9-1-1 is the number to dial for the fastest possible emergency response when you need POLICE, FIRE or MEDICAL ASSISTANCE in a life or death situation.