The Communications Unit of the Delta Police Department is made up of 18 full-time frontline employees in specialized positions as emergency 911 call-takers and dispatchers, as non-emergency call-takers, and as switchboard/reception counter staff.
The women and men who work as emergency 911 call-takers and dispatchers are the calming voices at the end of the phone line who will help you if you are in crisis, and will send emergency responders to you no matter what time of the day or night you call. They are also the voice at the end of radio for police officers, to guide them to you and to provide them with essential information in life and death situations. Each 911 call-taker and dispatcher is as invested in helping you as our police officers who arrive at the scene are.
Our non-emergency call-takers are there to assist you with any matter of a potentially criminal nature and, although neither you nor anyone else is in danger, it is determined to be a matter for a police officer to look into. The call taker will ensure that your call is assigned to a police officer to follow-up with you. If your call is not about a criminal matter, the call taker will try to help you determine what alternate services provider might best be able to help you.
If you attend at police headquarters in person, or you are just calling to be put through to someone, reception counter and switchboard staff are here to assist.
Approximately 30,000 calls are received annually. Of those, approximately 15% are “Abandoned 911 calls”, which are calls made to 911 but no-one on the line says anything. These are not left as abandoned. Each one is followed up to determine its origin and the reason it was made. Approximately a quarter are determined to be actual events that police are required to attend. The rest, almost 85%, are misdials, pocket dials or children playing with phones. For every one of those calls the Communications Unit conducts a background history check and places follow up calls to the phone to determine the nature of the call. A police officer is commonly dispatched to go to the houses of the phone’s owner, or to meet the phone’s owner, to assess whether the caller really isn’t in danger or may have been in distress, but not able to answer or answer truthfully. This requires a huge allocation of police resources, and ties up police officers, making them less available to attend other calls.
The next time you put your phone in your pocket or purse, or give it to your child to play with, please think about preventing a false call! And if you do accidentally dial 911 and suddenly realize it, please… DON’T HANG UP! Stay on the line and explain to call taker what happened and answer their questions. That way, officers don’t have to come and find you, only to confirm it was a misdial, and remain available for other calls. Someone else’s safety may depend on it.