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9-1-1 Use and Abuse

When to use 911 versus 7-digit telephone lines

Call 911 when there is a life or death emergency that requires the immediate response of emergency service such as police, fire or paramedic. Always call 911 when there is a medical problem or something that requires the Los Angeles Fire Department to respond, because they do not have non-emergency lines.

When there is a situation that requires police response but is not an emergency, use a non-emergency 7-digit telephone number.

How to call 911

All 911 calls are received by Police Service Representatives (PSRs) who are trained to screen calls quickly and efficiently. Dial 1-877-ASK-LAPD (1-877-275-5273) for non-emergency police service.

1. Dial 911 (on a pay phone it is not necessary to deposit money).
2. Tell the 911 operator what you need; ambulance, fire truck, or the police.
3. Be calm. When a caller is upset, it is hard to understand what he or she is saying or to get vital information quickly.
4. Stay on the phone. Do not hang up!
5. Give your name and address. If your address is different from the location of the crime, be sure to let the operator know.
6. If possible, give the operator suspect description, weapons, if any, and vehicle description and license.

Emergency operators will verify your address and telephone to ensure that the telephone company address that is sent with the call is current and accurate. People living in mobile home parks, condominiums or on private roads often have addresses that differ from the telephone company street address. If you fall in one of these categories, contact the City Engineering Department to find out what your legal street address is.

It is a misdemeanor under California Penal Code Section 148.3 for any person to willfully use the 911 system for any purpose other than reporting an emergency. It is a felony if someone is injured or dies as a result of emergency service response to a false call.