Emergency: 911
Emergency: 911
Fire / Police / Ambulance: 911
Fire / Police / Ambulance: 911
Poison Control: 800 222 1222
Poison Control: 800 222 1222
Non-Emergency
Non-Emergency
Police: 305 4-POLICE
Police: 305 4-POLICE
Information Assistance: 411
Information Assistance: 411
First Call for Help: 262-377-COPE
First Call for Help: 262-377-COPE
Miami Time & Weather: 305 594 1500
Miami Time & Weather: 305 594 1500

When to call 9-1-1

Should you call the emergency or non-emergency police number?

A recent article in TIME Magazine explored the reasons why witnesses to crime fail to report incidents to the police. According to the article, one of the reasons crime isn’t reported, is that witnesses assume someone else will raise the alarm. We believe one of the reasons is uncertainty as to whether the incident is really a crime. It’s possible that people witness criminal activity more often than they realize. It’s easy to categorize violence as a crime or at least as wrongdoing. Blackmail or extortion are harder to peg. For example, two adults arguing on the street could be construed  as a nothing more than a heated dispute, but what if the argument leads to a violent crime? As a bystander, it’s impossible to know with certainty whether an argument between two adults will escalate to violence and therefore, it’s difficult to determine whether the authorities should be notified

In this hypothetical scenario, placing a 911 call may not be first on everyone’s list. If our uncertainty is greater than the evidence, we might push aside the idea of reporting a suspicious incident. Everyone knows that dialing 911 should be reserved for emergencies, calling for other reasons, i.e. playing a prank, can be considered a crime. This does not mean that genuine concern will land you in prison. But what type of “concern” should be reported to the authorities? If there is no evidence of harm to a person, should one report it to 9-1-1 or to the non-emergency number?

A local blog pointed out that when calling the non-emergency number to report a fender-bender, his call was re-routed to a 9-1-1 operator. A reader of the same local blog commented that when he called the non-emergency police number to report a non-life-threatening incident, the operator had acted as if the caller had dialed 911. The caller assumed that his call was not of enough importance to warrant a non-emergency call to the police. If these incidents are true, it’s possible that in in Miami-Dade county, the non-emergency Police number and the 9-1-1 number are both  answered by the same staff members. This means that calling the non-emergency line could actually take the operator away from answering a real, life-threatening 911 call.

It’s easy to get caught up on whether or not to report a suspicious incident. You start wondering whether your concern is authentic, or whether you have enough evidence to believe an incident is suspicious. Most yes or no questions (i.e. Is my situation a real emergency?) can be  argued both ways. When in doubt as to whether you should call the police, consider this rule of thumb: call 911 or the non-emergency line only if your call is important enough to delay emergency response to other life threatening emergencies.

Call 911 or the non-emergency line only if your call is important enough to delay emergency response to other life threatening emergencies.

Calling the non-emergency police number is not so different from calling 9-1-1. Calling 9-1-1 or the non-emergency line both imply a critical condition is at hand. If you need to chat to someone, there’s actually a phone number just for that, and its not the non-emergency police line. If you’re having an emotional crisis you can call the Miami Switchboard at 211. Listen to the menu options for specifics.

The COPE Hotline also provides counseling services 24/7. Calling 262-377-COPE will put callers right through to a counselor that provides emotional support and crisis intervention services free of charge. It’s like having an emergency shrink on speed dial. If your emotional crisis has turned into an emergency that puts your life or the life of someone else at risk, follow the rule of thumb: Call 911 or the non-emergency line only if your call is important enough to delay emergency response to other life threatening emergencies.

Legal Disclaimer: Pro-Secur has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided on this blog. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. Pro-Secur does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained on this blog.

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