What to Do If I See a Crime in Progress

We have all been in situations where we stood back and said, “Wow.  I can’t believe that just happened!”  And the longer you sit back and watch it happening, someone else like you, is being victimized by that crime.  Think for a moment, “what if it was me?” 

ACT! Don’t re-act! There IS something you can do….call 911! NOW!

What do I say when I call 911?

Tell the dispatcher your location, where the suspicious activity/crime is occurring, and EXACTLY what you are witnessing.  If you see a 20s something white, hispanic, or black male or female entering your neighbor’s house (and you know the neighbor is out of town or not home), provide the dispatcher ALL of that information!  Give the dispatcher a detailed clothing description: “She is a thin white female wearing a black tank top and blue jeans.  She also has curly black hair, and is climbing into a back window!” “There is a white, medium build, man in the driveway standing next to a green, newer model Nissan pickup truck too!” “I think the truck’s license plate is…. .  He is wearing … .”  This is ALL vital information!

The dispatcher will ask you several questions, so be sure to answer all of them as best you can.  You may wonder why they ask so many questions, and this is why:

The officer(s) responding to the scene are being provided information by dispatch on what they are enroute to, and what to be on the lookout for.  If officers are in the area of the activity you are calling in, they will know who and what to look for, and can then take appropriate action(s) to handle the situation. 

If you see someone holding a knife or other type of weapon, let dispatch know! Tell them what you saw, and who was holding it.  This is vital for not only the officer(s) safety, but also you and others in the area.  An officer never really knows exactly what type of situation he/she is responding to, so be as accurate as possible with the information you provide.

For example, an officer was just dispatched to an incident in which the caller stated it was a business burglary that was over with.  When the officer arrives on scene, it is actually a burglary in progress, the suspect is still in the store and armed!  It’s all about safety, so please help us help you and our fellow citizens.

Finally, don’t wait for the suspicious activity, or crime, to have occurred. Call as soon as you see something happening. Consider the time frame: You are witnessing a suspicious incident. Fifteen minutes later, when its no longer occurring, and all suspects are gone, you call the police.  You provide your information, the dispatcher types it into the system as you talk, another dispatcher reads it, then that dispatcher relays it to an officer.  Two minutes later, an officer is enroute, and be aware that the officer dispatched has travel time from wherever they are too.  It’s now 25 minutes later…Would it be fair to say, at this point, any and all suspects may be long gone from the area?  Now, if the call is made as soon as you see suspicious activity occurring, the officer(s) may be able to arrive while suspects are either still on scene, or still in the area.

Stay vigilant and alert, and if something doesn’t seem right about a situation you are observing, do not hesitate to call the police.  We will respond and identify if the situation is criminal or legitimate. 

It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry!