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A 9-1-1 system is considered either Basic or Enhanced. A Basic 9-1-1 system provides three-digit dialing, no-coin from pay telephones and intelligent routing to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) that handles the area where the phone is located. An Enhanced 9-1-1 system adds the ability to display the caller’s address and telephone number at the PSAP for the dispatcher’s reference.

In general, 9-1-1 is an emergency number for any police, fire or medical incident.

Do not program 9-1-1 into your autodial telephone. You won’t forget the number, and programming the number invites accidental dialing of the number. Also, please do not dial 9-1-1 to “test” your phone or the system. This needlessly burdens the dispatchers and system with non-emergency calls.

Dial 9-1-1 only for an emergency. An emergency is any serious medical problem (chest pain, seizure, bleeding, etc), any type of fire (business, car, building, etc), or any life-threatening situation (fights, person with weapons, etc.). You can also use 9-1-1 to report crimes in progress, whether or not a life is threatened. If you aren’t sure if you should call, it’s better to call anyway!

If you dialed 9-1-1 in error, do not hang up the telephone. Instead, stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher that you dialed by mistake and that you do not have an emergency. If you hang up, a dispatcher will call back to confirm that there is no emergency. If you don’t answer, a police officer must be dispatched to confirm that you are OK. This will needlessly take resources away from genuine emergencies.

When the dispatcher answers, briefly describe the type of incident you are reporting. For example, “I’m reporting an auto fire,” or “I’m reporting an unconscious person.” Then stay on the line with the dispatcher – do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to. In some cases, the dispatcher will keep you on the line while the emergency units are responding to ask additional questions, obtain on-going information, or provide pre-arrival instructions.

Let the call-taker ask you questions – they have been trained to ask questions that will help prioritize the incident, locate it and speed an appropriate response. Your answers should be brief and responsive. Remain calm and speak clearly. If you are not in a position to give full answers to the call-taker (the suspect is nearby), stay on the phone and the dispatcher will ask you questions that can be answered “yes” or “no”.

The Communication Officers assigned to this division perform a variety of duties including the dispatch of police, fire and emergency city crews, (such as Public Works.)

Responsibilities Involved:
•Monitoring movements of police and fire
•Answering 911 calls within the city limits of Washington, disseminating to the proper resource
•CodeRED (ONSLOVE) Community Notification System
•Interface with Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System, (MULES) and the National Crime Information Center, (NCIC)
•Provide pre-arrival instructions for fire and law enforcement emergency situations
•Observe prisoners via video cameras in holding areas
•Track weather conditions and set off alarm sirens when needed
•Maintain a source of local information for the general public.

In October 2016, in conjunction with the Washington Police Department and the Washington Volunteer Fire Department, the Communications division implemented a new Computer Aided Dispatch program, (CAD.) This update gives us the ability to interact between the Police Department records management program and the Fire Department’s firehouse program. It also provided our Police Department with Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), mapping with Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVL)  It further allows us to efficiently and accurately track activities for our emergency services.

In the last year, over 30,480 calls have been processed by our Communication Officers including:
•23,333 Police calls
•6,550 911 calls
•597 Fire reports

About the Communications Department

Provide dispatch services for police, fire, and local government.  Act as a point of contact with the public and emergency services.

1.  Continue to provide a high level of service to the public
2.  Improve community involvement with Mass Warning System (CodeRED)
3.  Continue to provide quality emergency services through education and training

We, the members of the Washington Communications Department are committed to excellence in public safety, providing a vital link between residents and visitors of our city and its three emergency services. We are committed to providing the fastest and most efficient response to calls possible, while striving to collect and disseminate requests for service in a professional and courteous manner.

As Communication Officers we are the first component of the public safety response team. Without leaving the workplace, we are first to ‘arrive on the scene’. Using our acquired skills we gather and relay information, provide pre-arrival instructions, track each incident, process and update information as situations unfold.

We are pledged to the highest standard of integrity, ethics, excellence and teamwork in our performance. In carrying out our mission, we help to save lives, protect property, stop crime and prevent loss through fire; thus making The City of Washington a safer community in which to live, work and visit.