Calling 911

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911 Communications

You should call 911 in emergency situations.

Examples of these emergencies include:

  • Crimes that are in progress or about to happen
  • Crimes that have resulted in serious personal injury, property damage, or property loss
  • Situations in which the suspect may still be at the scene
  • Some suspicious activities

When you call 911, a trained dispatcher will connect you to the appropriate responder (police, fire, EMS).

How 911 Works:

  • Your 911 call will be one of more than 2,600 answered each month by a dispatcher in the Maryland Heights Police Department. Dispatchers are the specially trained civilians who answer your call to 911.
  • When the dispatcher answers the phone, he or she will first ask “What is the location of your emergency?" (Seventy-five percent of calls to the MHPD come from cell phones, and many do not display the exact location of the caller.)
  • The dispatcher will ask what has occurred and determine whether to send police and/or transfer the call to fire or EMS personnel. 
  • Callers should be patient and remain as calm as possible to allow the dispatcher to ask questions that are necessary for the call. 
  • If you need police assistance, tell the dispatcher what type of crime you are calling about. (For example, "I'm calling about a robbery/car accident/fight." Then give the location of the telephone you are calling from. If you don't know the block number, give the closest street name or intersection. 
  • The dispatcher may ask you a variety of questions to help determine the priority of the call and how many officers to send. The more information you can provide the dispatcher, the better assistance we can provide and the more information officers will have before they arrive on the scene. 
  • One of the last things the dispatcher will ask is if you want to be seen by the officer or remain anonymous.
  • If you call 911 and it rings several times, stay on the line and DO NOT HANG UP. A dispatcher will answer the line as soon as possible. If you hang up, you will be bumped to the back of the line when you call again and the original call will still be holding in the 911 queue as a hang-up call.
  • If you call 911 by mistake, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know that you do not need police to respond.

Types of Police Response

  • Because there are so many calls for police attention, calls are ranked by their urgency. If an immediate response is needed, a police car is always dispatched immediately
  • For other, less urgent situations, an officer may arrive up to 15 minutes after your call.
  • Not every call to the Police Department is an emergency or one that requires sending a police officer to the scene. In those instances please call (314) 298-8700, the MHPD's non-emergency line.

Reasons to use the Non-Emergency Line:

  • Your property has been damaged or stolen
  • Your vehicle or bicycle has been stolen
  • Your vehicle has been broken into
  • Larceny reports
  • Group home missing person reports
  • To provide additional information for previous reports

Reasons to Use 911:

  • Life and death situations
  • Medical emergencies
  • To report a crime in progress
  • To prevent a crime
  • To report a fire

Most Common Calls
Dispatchers are trained to get as much information as possible. Here are examples of the three most common types of 911 calls and the information the dispatcher will ask for.

1. Automobile Accident

  • Give the block number or nearest location
  • Are there injuries (details not necessary)?
  • Has fuel been spilled (a possible fire danger)?

2. Suspicious Person

  • Give the sex, race, age and clothing description
  • Describe the suspicious activity
  • Did the person have any weapons?

3. Suspicious Vehicle

  • Get vehicle description (use the acronym CYMBAL, which stands for Color, Year, Make, Body style And License plate number)
  • Is the vehicle occupied? If so, by how many people? Can you describe them?
  • Is the vehicle parked or moving?

In the event that you wish to just leave information for the police on suspicious activity in your neighborhood, you may call the TIPS Hotline at (314) 209-8477, which is monitored daily, or use our online tip form.