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Before You Dial 9-1-1...

The National Emergency Number Association estimates that 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year, for all kinds of reasons. But calling the police isn’t a guarantee of a quick or effective response. And when police are dispatched, a situation can unexpectedly escalate, as it did at this Philadelphia Starbucks, this New Jersey gym and this Alabama Waffle House.

What should we expect when we call 9-1-1? Is there a wrong time to call the cops for help? And how can callers get the results they want when they dial 9-1-1?


Michael Wood Jr., Police management scholar; former Baltimore police officer; author, “Crimes and Punishments in the 21st Century”

Errin Haines Whack, Race and ethnicity reporter, Associated Press

Cedric Alexander, Deputy mayor of Rochester, N.Y.; former police chief of Dekalb County and City of Rochester; long-time law enforcement officer

Thomas Self, Dispatcher, advanced emergency medical technician

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