for Effective Communication with 911 Dispatch
of the hardest things a family may have to do is call the police when
loved one is behaving in an unsafe manner. These guidelines may help
this moment of crisis.
you have a loved one with a serious mental health condition, there may
when their behavior creates a danger to themselves or others. For the
both your loved one and your family, police intervention may be
may expect that your loved one will feel scared or even betrayed by
decision, even though you are ultimately acting for their best good.
officers, EMT's and County Mental Health workers understand this bigger
and are there to support you in making the hard choice.
Role of Law
primary function of the Peace Officer is to serve and protect the
large. When called upon to intervene with your family, they will make
assessment of the level of danger present and use the minimum amount of
necessary to contain that threat and restore safety. The more
have prior to engaging your family member, the better equipped they
will be to
negotiate a favorable outcome.
you speak to the Dispatcher in a stressed or frantic way, the police
into the situation escalated, anticipating the need for a possible
may result in a more forceful intervention. If you desire a softer
from law enforcement, then speak calmly and clearly to the Dispatcher,
communicating relevant background and situation information.
Call 911 Away from
do not want to agitate them or make them feel threatened. If possible,
yourself from the room to make the call. Ask the police to come without
or sirens. They will then determine if this is possible.
Ask Them to Evaluate
for a 5150
5150 is a section of California's Welfare and Institutions Code which
qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person deemed
a mental disorder that makes them a danger to his or her self, and/or
and/or gravely disabled. Give the police all the information needed to
for a 5150. Describe the specific behaviors that are causing you
Identify Yourself and
Your Relationship to the Situation
you the primary caregiver for your loved one or do they live
frequent is your contact with your loved one? Is this the first crisis
intervention or have there been others? Are there case managers or
Explain Why the
is in Danger
family member is decompensating and the behavior is not typical for
Decompensation means the inability to maintain defense mechanisms in
to stress, resulting in personality disturbance or psychological
Give examples to dispatch: not eating, not bathing, suicidal,
Know Your Rights
the individual is putting you or themselves in danger, police need to
and help. You have the right to ask for help.
for their badge number, names of officers and their supervisors. Give
to the officers about what worked for your family and what did not.
Keep Yourself Safe
will be the one speaking to police when they arrive. Your safety is as
important as your loved one's.
Stay on the Line
on the phone with the dispatcher, EMERGENCY help is being dispatched.
on the line, if asked to do so, will NOT delay help from responding.
“5150” Crisis (up to 72 hour involuntary hold) - Family Tips