Police Communications

CIMG1366

The Livingston Police Department Communications Center is manned 24 hours per day, 365 days per year by specially trained dispatch personnel. A dispatcher is the first person an individual comes into contact with when he or she calls for assistance from the Livingston Police Department. The dispatchers answer all 911 calls as well as non-emergency calls and dispatch the Livingston Fire Department and First Aid Squad in addition to the Police Department.

Dispatchers have the difficult task of quickly assessing a call and gathering large amounts of information for responding officers. To provide officers with as much information as possible, dispatchers ask a lot of questions, which can vary depending on the type of call.

In emergency situations, callers can get frustrated by the number of questions because they are concerned that it causes a delay in officers’ responding to the call. It is important to remember that, most often, as the dispatcher is getting information from you, it is being sent to another dispatcher who initiates the call to an officer and provides him or her with updated information. Remaining calm and answering the questions asked by the dispatcher helps ensure the quickest and safest response by officers.

When should I call 911?

You should call 911 only for an emergency. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance. Examples include:

  • A fire
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A medical emergency, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention

Important: If you’re not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, we recommend calling 911 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.

If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up—that could make the dispatcher think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, stay on the line and simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

What questions might I be asked if I call the police in an emergency?

  • What is your location? Be as specific as possible. You should also give the name of the town where you are located because 911 calls are not always answered by the municipality where they are made from.
  • What is your emergency (what are you reporting)?
  • What number are you calling from? (This is in case the call is dropped. It is especially important if you are using a cell phone)

If you are reporting a medical emergency, the dispatcher will ask you questions regarding the injured or sick person.

If a crime is involved, and you saw or can see a suspect, be prepared to give a description:

  • sex
  • race
  • age
  • height
  • weight
  • hair color/length
  • color of eyes
  • clothing description, i.e.hat/cap, jacket/coat, shirt, pants, shoes
  • other pertinent information such as scars, marks, tattoos

If a vehicle is involved, you will be asked to describe it:

  • license plate number
  • color
  • year
  • make
  • model
  • style, i.e. 2 door or 4 door, convertible
  • how many occupants
  • any features that stand out, such as dents, stickers, missing parts, etc.
  • last known direction of travel of suspect(s) and/or vehicle(s)
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