When victimization happens, it can be hard to know what to do first. Evaluating and deciding whether or not to report a crime is a big part of this. In some situations, it may not be safe to call 911 right away and it is important to know that you don’t have to call right away. While every state has different requirements for how much time can pass before a report must be filed, you can call to make a report when you feel ready and it is safe to do so.
There are different ways to report a crime. You should choose the option that is best for you. If you decide to report the crime to law enforcement, you can either call 911 or the non-emergency line. Some crimes, like human trafficking and financial fraud, can also be reported to other types of agencies.
You should call 911 if:
- You are in immediate danger and/or a life threatening situation
- You fear for your personal safety or the safety of others
- Someone is injured or experiencing a medical emergency
- There is a fire
While talking with the 911 operator:
- Remain calm and speak clearly
- Be prepared to answer where, what, when, who, and how
- Let the call-taker ask the questions
- Stay on the phone if it is safe to do so, or until the call taker advises you to hang up
- If the call requires transfer to another agency, stay on the line. You may hear a series of clicks as the transfer occurs
- If the 9-1-1 center is extremely busy and your call is not answered within approximately 15 seconds, you will hear a recording indicating that operators are busy. The tones that follow the recording support devices for the hearing impaired. Stay on the line, do not hang up and call back
You may be asked:
- The location of the emergency – the exact address, intersection, place name (for example shopping center, school, hotel, etc.)
- The nature of the emergency (what is going on right now, description of people and/or vehicles involved, any weapons involved, how long ago did the incident occur)
- If it is a medical emergency you will be asked questions about the patient’s physical condition
- Your (the caller’s) name and telephone number – a request to remain anonymous will be honored
- Whether you want an officer to respond to see you
- To be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Call takers can provide step-by-step information about what to do until help arrives.
You can call your local non-emergency number to:
- To report that you were the victim of a crime that is not currently happening
- To report violations of protection orders that have not placed you in physical danger such as through social media or email
- If you visit the station in person, keep in mind you may have to wait until an officer is available to take your report
Some crimes can also be reported to other agencies:
The VictimConnect Resource Center is not a reporting agency. A victim assistance specialist can speak with you about different reporting options, but cannot make a report for you.
- Adult Protective Services
- Child Protective Services
- Cybercrime or other internet crime
- Financial Fraud and Identity Theft
- See information on Financial Fraud
- Human Trafficking
- Missing Child or Online Exploitation of a child
- Suspected terrorism or criminal activity
Visit our VictimConnect Resource Map for additional resources or contact the VictimConnect Resource Center by phone or text at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services that can help you or a loved one who is interested in reporting a crime.