How does 9-1-1 work?
The Kalamazoo Integrated Dispatch Center is the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) that takes most of the 9-1-1 calls for Kalamazoo City, Township and County. We transfer the medical to the appropriate ambulance dispatch center.
The City of Portage as well as WMU Police Department all have their own police departments. If you call 9-1-1 from a phone located in one of these areas, your call normally will be routed to the respective department’s dispatch center.
Cellular telephones are a little different. If the coverage area for a cell site falls mostly in Portage, for example, a cellular 9-1-1 call made through that cell site will be routed to Portage Police Dispatch. This results in some confusion, but the calls are easily transferred between different dispatch centers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do the operators ask so many questions when I call 9-1-1 for police assistance?
A: Communications Operators need to get accurate information to allow officers to determine how best to approach the situation. Callers may be asked how long ago the incident happened, to describe the suspect(s), the direction the suspect(s) took and what type of transportation, including vehicle(s). Questions about weapons, drinking, or drug use are for safety of the citizen and officer alike. This information is relayed to the officers while they are en route to the call.
Q: Why, when I call because my husband and I are arguing, am I always asked if anyone has been hit or pushed?
A: This is a standard question on most disturbance type calls to determine if any medical assistance is needed. Because of the repetitive nature of domestic disturbances, which often includes increased levels of violence, it is imperative that an officer respond to check the welfare of the people involved. Our Department is required by current Michigan Law to respond to any reports of domestic violence.
Q: Why was I referred to make a report at a substation or by telephone when my car was burglarized?
A: Many crimes can be reported over the telephone or at the station and that then allows officers to handle other situations where a crime is in progress. The general guidelines for filing a report by telephone or at a substation are: 1) there is no evidence to be processed; 2) there is no immediate possibility of apprehending the suspect; 3) there are no witnesses to interview; and 4) there is no suspect information.
Q: When I called the police about a drunk driver, the operator asked me to describe the driver, even after I had given the license plate number and the type of car. Why is that?
A: Once an alleged drunk driver can no longer be seen, it is possible for that person to deny he or she was driving the car. If our caller is willing to identify the person who was behind the wheel and driving erratically, then the court case is much stronger in case of an arrest.
Q: I was teaching my 3 year old how to dial 9-1-1. Although I had hung up before anyone answered, the next thing I knew, two officers were knocking on my door. How did that happen?
A: When we receive 9-1-1 hang-up calls or open line calls, and we are unable to make contact and determine that there is actually no emergency, we assume an emergency exists and officers are dispatched. These calls are handled quickly and carefully as the officers do not know what to expect when arriving at the address from which the number was dialed. It is important that our citizens understand that 9-1-1 calls are a serious matter. If citizens call 9-1-1, whether programming their phone, incorrectly dialing their phone, or teaching their children, they should stay on the line long enough to advise the call taker that no emergency exists and explain how they reached 9-1-1 in error.
It is also important for “pranksters” who intentionally abuse the 9-1-1 system, and for citizens calling 9-1-1 without an actual emergency, to understand that their actions are tying up a 9-1-1 operator while a true emergency call has to wait to be answered.