Why Call the Police?
A police department cannot function effectively without the assistance of responsible citizens. The police are depending on you to call and report all suspicious persons or activities. Many crimes would not be committed if more citizens notified the police of suspicious activity .
What is Suspicious?
Basically, anything that seems even slightly out of the ordinary or is occurring at an unusual time of day could be criminal activity. For example:
- A stranger inspecting a neighbor’s home while the occupants are away.
- Someone trying to open a neighbor’s door or window.
- A moving truck pulled up to a neighbor’s home while they are away. Remember, burglaries often occur at times when they should be most obvious (broad daylight, in full view of observers).
- Someone carrying property such as televisions, computers, stereos, etc, an an unusually late hour or in an unusual place, especially if it does not appear that the property is newly purchased.
- The sound of shattering glass, which could signal a possible burglary, vandalism or larceny in progress.
- Anyone peering into vehicles as they walk down the street or someone removing tags, gasoline or parts from a vehicle.
- Someone attempting to enter a vehicle using a coat hanger or other device. Never assume that it is the owner who has locked his or her keys in the car. Be suspicious of anyone tampering with the hood or trunk of a car.
- An improperly parked or abandoned vehicle, or someone leaving one vehicle and driving away in another, which may be signs of a stolen vehicle.
- Anyone apparently being forced into a vehicle, who could be a victim of a possible abduction.
- Persons loitering around schools, playgrounds, parks and isolated areas in the neighborhood. These loiterers could be possible sex offenders or burglars.
- Business transactions conducted from vehicles, especially around schools, playgrounds or parks or a steady flow of strangers to and from a particular house on a regular basis could indicate drug sales or a fencing operation (purchasing of stolen goods).
- Offers of goods or repair work at an unusually low price, which could indicate stolen property or some type of fraud.
- All fights, screams and loud noises (such as gunshots or explosions or similar) should be reported.
- Door-to-door solicitors without properly issued licenses and identification should be suspected.
While this list points out many suspicious situations, it is by no means a complete record of all the instances that can occur. While some, if not all, of the above situations could have innocent explanations, your police department would rather investigate possible criminal activity than be called when it is too late to take action.
When Should You Call the Police?
Don’t wait for someone else to call–they may be waiting for YOU to do that! Call the police immediately to report an in-progress suspicious activity. The more people who call to report their suspicions, the closer the attention given by police. It is part of a police officer’s job to investigate suspicious activity and you should not feel embarrassed if your call should prove to be unfounded. Think about what could have happened if you failed to call and the activity turned out to be a crime. Often citizens fail to call because they are not sure of their suspicions, If in doubt, call the police immediately–or at least jot down what was seen (activity, description, license plate numbers, direction of travel). You may call the police non-emergency number, [FILL IN BLANK], if you want to report but feel uncertain.
How Do You Call the Police?
If there is suspicious activity, a crime in progress or an emergency situation, call 911. Your name, address and phone number will appear on the police answering device. This information is recorded in case additional contact with you is necessary. If you do not wish to provide any personal information, call the non-emergency number, [FILL IN THE BLANK - and by the way, is this still true, that your non-em number doesn't record who called? If not, we need to reword this bit]. Any information provided to the Police Department is kept in confidence. If you do not wish to have personal contact with the responding officer at the scene, please say so.
Additional procedures to consider when calling the police:
- Be as specific as possible regarding type of crime or situation.
- Answer all questions as best you can and stay on the phone until the police operator has all necessary information.
- Be available, if needed, to assist responding officer(s) with additional information.
- Please remember the police depend on accurate information and those who deliberately provide false information can and will be prosecuted.
Information most often needed:
- What happened?
- Weapons involved?
- Are the parties still there?
- Start at the top and work down–hair, face, clothing, race, sex, age
- Compare height and weight to your own
- Pick out distinctive characteristics–scars, tattoos, earrings, other jewelry
- Vehicles involved?
- License number
- Distinctive characteristics
- Direction of travel