Reporting a Police Emergency

As a citizen, you are the eyes and the ears of your police department. You can provide the police department with much needed information. Should you need to call 911 for police assistance, a trained professional will answer the phone and ask a series of questions. Please follow the lead of the call taker and answer the questions that are being asked. Our call takers will carefully prioritize which questions need to be asked given the situation you are reporting. Below is a list of questions that you can expect to be asked. Please remember to speak clearly.


Where is the incident occurring? Street address? Is it an apartment or a house? At a business? On the street? Near a cross street or address? What business on what street and what address?

The location of the incident is one of the most important pieces of information that you can provide, and one of the first questions you will be asked. If the dispatcher doesn't know where you are, help won't be able to get to you. If we can not find where you are, we can not send help. When providing the location, please try to be as specific as possible. Keep in mind that certain businesses in the city have more than one address. For example, there are several Dunkin Dounuts in the City of Westfield. If you are calling from a multi-family residence, please provide the floor and/or apartment number so we can find the problem. If you are on the street, please provide specific address information along with the nearest intersecting street.


Say exactly what is happening. What kind of incident is taking place? Is it a traffic accident, a parking problem, a burglary or another type of incident.

The nature of the problem helps our dispatchers to send the most appropriate resources. We need to know the extent of the problem and any factors that are involved. Some of the information can prepare the police officers for hazards on scene. The call taker will guide you through this process by asking a series of questions.


When did the incident occur? Is it occurring now, did it just happen or did it happen ten minutes ago, two hours or yesterday?

In addition to what happened, the time the incident occurred is another essential element that helps the dispatcher send the most appropriate resources. Active incidents will take precedence over non-active incidents. For example, several officers will be sent to a large fight in progress whereas a single officer may be sent to interview a person that was assaulted yesterday.

Personal description

In many situations, the call taker will ask for descriptions of the people involved in the incident. This information will assist our officers in the identification of who is who when they arrive. This information is critical in locating someone that committed a crime. If we know the description of who's involved, it increases our chances in locating that suspect. The more information you can provide, the better.

Some of the information you may be asked: gender, ethnicity, and approximate age of the subject as well as the physical features and clothing from the head down to the feet.

Vehicle description

Vehicles are often involved in police incidents. From the routine parking complaint to a hit and run crash, the vehicle description may assist our officers in locating the vehicle. As with people descriptions, the more information you can provide, the better.

Some information you may be asked: The type of vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle), the color, make, model and maybe approximate year. The license plate numbers is also critically important.

Direction of travel of the vehicle or subject

In addition to the vehicle description, our call takers will ask the location of the car involved in the incident. If the vehicle or person has left the scene, the call taker will need to know the direction of travel of the vehicle or suspect. Which direction? On what street? How is the suspect traveling, on foot or in a vehicle?

Your name, address, and phone number

We need this information so that if we have further questions or an officer does, you can be contacted. If you wish to remain anonymous that is your right, just advise the dispatcher of that fact when they ask for your name. On occasion, you might be asked to remain on the line while the dispatcher gets units responding to the incident. Please stay on the line. This way you can give more information on the call, especially if it's still in progress.