What Happens When You Call 911?

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot2/26/2014
woman tangled in phone lines

A recent campaign by the Washington County Dispatch in Oregon is trying to spread awareness for the proper use of 911. The campaign, ‘You Called 911 For That?!’ publishes the most ridiculous use of the 911 system each week. Agency Spokesperson Mark Chandler told ABC News, “You should only call 911 if there is an emergency involving your life or property.” So how are you supposed to know who to call for non-emergency incidents? That’s where sci-Shot’s mobile app comes in handy.

sci-Shot provides a discretionary reporting system for incidents that are curious or suspicious and worth sharing but may not warrant a call to law enforcement or another emergency responder. sci-Shot users can act on an impulse without concern about calling on the limited resources of emergency responders.

Oregon’s campaign has featured non-emergency 911 calls such as a debit card not working at a gas station or complaints of a person smoking a cigarette on a train platform. These types of calls should be directed to local law enforcement so that the emergency lines do not get tied up. That leads to the question of what types of incidents are worth reporting to sci-Shot?

sci-Shot users are asked to report eye-witness accounts of any suspicious or unusual conduct, conditions, or incidents. Images and videos of incidents may be uploaded confidentially and are intended to be used as corroborating evidence rather than primary evidence. Check out a few examples below:

dog trapped in car

Suspicious Dog Owner

sci-Shot user, animal143, is enjoying a walk in the warm sun when she notices a neighbor's dog locked in the car at a local gas station, with windows rolled up. On her return back home, some 15 minutes later, she snaps a photo of the car, and uploads it to sci-Shot, tags the photo as 'animal abuse,' although she is not certain that the dog is overheated.

A different day, a different time, and without knowing about animal143's photo, sci-Shot user, peace456, photographs a man whipping a dog with its leash outside a home.

On yet another day, a curious neighbor spots an overheated dog chained to a fence, and notes the absence of water. She calls the police.

The police find animal143's and peace456's reports when searching all pictures and video uploaded near the vicinity of the address reported by the curious neighbor. These sci-Shot users provided the supplemental information needed to determine that the dog was at risk.
suspicious man in playground

Suspicious Loiterer

sci-Shot user, prektchr, is at recess with her students when she notices a man loitering by the fence. She doesn't recognize him as a parent so she snaps a photo for sci-Shot.

A different day, a different time, and without knowing about prektchr's photo, sci-Shot user runner323 is jogging through his local park and spots a man staring at a group of kids playing catch. He records video although he is uncertain as to whether or not the man is up to no good or just one of the kids' fathers.

A few days later, a woman is watching her son play in the park when she sees a man she does not recognize approach her son and engage in quiet dialogue. After rushing to her son, which scares off the man, she calls the police.

Police search sci-Shot's database and are able to use prektchr's and runner323's incident reports to see that it was the same man in each report. These sci-Shot users provided the supplemental information needed to identify the loiterer.

Check out all of our sample incidents and start using our mobile app to snap a photo or video of curious incidents.

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