The Saint Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

SAFETY ALERT: Your abuser can monitor your use of your computer and the Internet. If you are in danger, please use a safer computer, call 911, the St. Paul & Ramsey County Intervention Project at 651-645-2824, or the Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line at 1-866-223-1111 if you are in Minnesota. If you live outside of Minnesota call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

To better understand the steps of working with the criminal justice system in matters of domestic abuse, click on The St Paul Blueprint for Safety.

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Saint Paul Blueprint for Safety

What happens when I call 911 for help?

911 responds to calls for help when you are being harmed or in danger of being harmed or need medical help.

When Should I call 911?

Call 9-1-1 when

• You or someone else is hurt or in danger of becoming hurt.

• You hear gun shots. 

• You hear screaming from neighbors.

• Someone needs an ambulance or emergency medical assistance. 

• A crime is in progress or has just occurred. 

• Property or a person is being hurt or endangered at the moment of your call. 

• A protective order exists (order for protection, domestic abuse no contact order, no contact order, harassment/restraining order, no trespass order) and a violation is in progress or has just occurred.

• Someone has or you think someone has illegally entered your home.

If you’re not sure whether to call, it is better to be safe; call 9-1-1. Never be afraid to dial 9-1-1 because of uncertainty.

If you don’t feel safe or if you’re being followed, if possible, seek safety at a well-lighted place with other people, such as a gas station, store, or busy intersection, and call 911. Ask for a police officer to meet you at your safe location. Ask others to help you.

When you call 911 the call is answered by a 911 operator. The operator needs information about your emergency to send help as quickly as possible. The operator will ask you about where to send help, what your phone number is so that 911 can call back if your call disconnects, your name and what happened.

If you participate in the Safe at Home program and your emergency is at a different location than your home, you don’t need to reveal your home address. It is okay to only give your P.O. Box address. But if the emergency is at your home, 911 will need to know your actual home address to be able to send the police to help you.

If you are concerned that your home address was given to 911, you can call a confidential advocate at the St. Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (SPIP) to help you 651-645-2824.

The operator focuses on you and your emergency. As you remain on the phone providing information, help has already been dispatched and is on the way. The operator gives your information to the dispatcher who sends out the police and communicates your information to the police. The questions asked by the operator are designed so that the police can better respond to your emergency, for your safety and police safety. The operator will confirm your location and phone number. The operator will ask for as much detail about the nature of the emergency and conditions at the scene as time and safety allow.

How your 911 call is answered:

1. Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center (911) phone operator answers the call, gathers information from you and assigns the call a priority code so the police know which calls need responding to first when there are many 911 calls.

For example, if a text message was sent to you in violation of an order for protection without threats to harm you, the priority code would not be as high as if you were just physically assaulted.

2. The operator will ask you about whether there is a history of domestic abuse, whether there is an order for protection or domestic abuse no contact order in place, and whether there are any warrants to arrest.

3. The operator keeps you on the line for your safety and to update changes in your situation and information. The operator wants to make sure they have the most up-to-date information about your situation to pass onto the police.

4. The operator sends your call to the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher is the person who actually sends out the police to you.

If you don’t speak English, the operator can access the Language Line and have an interpreter help you communicate with 911.

5. Once the 911 dispatcher receives the call from the operator, the dispatcher assigns squad car(s). The dispatcher enters information about your call into the computer in squad cars.

6. The dispatcher checks in with police officers as they respond to your emergency.

The time that the police arrive may depend on how far away they are and if the number of emergencies is more than the number of police officers available in your area. If the danger you are in gets worse, call 911 again and update this information. The dispatcher will change the urgency and priority of your call based on the information you give.

When you talk to the 911 operator it may feel like the operator doesn’t understand your emergency or the danger you’re in because they sound calm on the phone. Operators are trained to stay calm on the phone with you so they can get the information that’s needed to send out the help you need to the right location.

911 calls are private information but all calls are recorded. Recordings are available to police departments and prosecutors. Often, 911 calls are entered into evidence in court cases. If the call is going to be entered into evidence, the defense in the case will have access to a copy of the call.

If you want a copy of the 911 call you made, request a copy from the police department that responded to your call.

If you have concerns about the 911 call recording, if you have a Safe at Home address or if you have further questions about this process, call SPIP to be connected to a confidential advocate 651-645-2824.

NEXT: What do the police do when they arrive in response to a 911 call? >>

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