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911 Procedures

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message 1: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarajov) | 2 comments What a great group and tons of excellent tips and answers! My question is on 911 procedures. My story has a person in a company facing a hostage situation. They call 911 from their cell phone and give the operator the wrong building number, so the police go into the wrong building (there is building one and two). Is that realistic? Would GPS correct the mistake? Would procedure have the police go into both buildings?

message 2: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
It is possible, Barbara, and this has been a plot device in several movies and TV shows I've seen. But I cannot envision such a Keystone scenario acting out with all the SWAT, helicopter, news cameras, bells and whistles. Most PD and agencies are more sophisticated than that. Remember, the 911 operator is simply that, an operator. S/he knows only the information provided. Realizing this could be a prank call, the PD will send a car w/o siren and probably plain clothes, to the address to see if something is amiss. Now, realistically, a good operator will gather as much info as possible. Say the operator is given the company name from the caller, the PD and the SWAT team will do some fact checking on the place and realize they were given the wrong address. Also, unless the caller states that the shooting has started, the SWAT team will do initial planning by getting the lay of the building, maybe evacuating nearby buildings (think DIE HARD). Rarely, if ever, will a SWAT team enter w/o getting as much 411 as possible. Even if shooting has started, a haphazard entry is sure to result in more deaths. But all is not lost for your device: Your PD could be small bunglers who want the glory and press coverage. Then when things go bad the big guys come in to clean up. Or, they go to the wrong building, see nothing, and leave. If the caller can call back and does give the correct address, 911 and the PD have more cause to believe it's a prank. BTW GPS will have no effect on this. Just Googling the company will give the PD the correct address. SWAT would probably not do a dual entry if the buildings are of any significant size. They could if there are several SWATs available but in a hostage situation, time and surprise are of the essence. They need to isolate the threat as much as possible(IE find the exact room they are held in). If they use the tactic of kicking every door (a tactic they might use if looking for a fugitive) they risk losing the hostage(s). Hope this helps, Barbara. Good luck.

message 3: by Larry (last edited Feb 06, 2014 05:30PM) (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Hey John and Barbara. Wanted to throw in my 2 cents as well. John is right that if there is a 911 call the 911 operator will attempt to obtain as much information as possible prior to sending out more than one or two patrol cars if there is little info to go on. This is especially true for sending out a SWAT team, which typically isn't done on a whim. Plus, when you develop your story keep in mind if it's a very small department, they would more than likely not have a full-time, or maybe even a part-time, SWAT team and would either have a Mutual Aid agreement with larger departments in the area such as the local Sheriff's Dept or the State Police. In a lot of Mutual Aid agreements, if it's a bunch of small departments they will often pool their resources (money and manpower) and form a regional SWAT team with a couple of officers from several departments that assist each other when needed. Plus, for a SWAT team to make an entry, they would normally have to have something to let them know that it's a situation that their services would be needed for. Hope this was helpful as well.


message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarajov) | 2 comments John and Larry, yes this is very helpful. My fear was that technology was in place to catch the caller's error in giving info to 911. I can make it work with the two high rises, smaller town so PD response makes sense and the caller stating she hears gunshots to speed up the approach. With shots fired, how long from initial call is it for the PD to come into the building they are directed to?

message 5: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
Really depends. Let your story dictate, Barbara. Small dept, big area, could be 20-30 minutes. You want a quick response, have your patrol car waiting at at coffee shop around the corner. Beauty of fiction; it's your world, you choose.

message 6: by Larry (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments Hey does exist to pinpoint where a cell phone call is made from, but it's not used in terms of a 911 call. Obviously if you make a 911 call from a landline the address will come up on the dispatcher's screen.

message 7: by John (new)

John Ouellet | 77 comments Mod
I was wondering about that, Larry, so thanks for clarifying. I wasn't sure if the cell could be traced accurately or if was still marked to the nearest tower.

message 8: by Larry (last edited Feb 07, 2014 03:35PM) (new)

Larry Townley | 26 comments If you needed it, you could use cell tower info to triangulate a cell phone's location but there would be some hoops to jump thru to make that happen and to my knowledge is not generally available to a 911 operator unless things have changed a lot in the last few years. Plus, there is some technology that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have available to them, but I can't really mention too much about those..sssshhhhh ;-)

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