Baltimore County Now
Jason Bivens, Assistant Chief
Baltimore County 9-1-1 Center
Ever call 9-1-1 in an emergency and wonder why the call taker asks so many questions? You can rest assured that answering questions does NOT delay your help. The dispatcher is generally already sending help while your call taker gets additional information from you. Baltimore County 9-1-1 call takers are trained to ask questions that will help you get the assistance you need as quickly as possible.
Here’s some background on how the 9-1-1 Center works and some important tips to help us help you as quickly as possible.
It is important to stay on the line until you receive instructions to hang up.
When you call for assistance, remember to dial the most appropriate number based on what you are reporting:
EMERGENCY: Dial 9-1-1
Non-Emergency: Dial 410-887-2222
When you call, we will verify your address or location, get your contact number, and ask some initial questions to determine the nature of the incident and what equipment and emergency response is needed to best help the situation.
AFTER sending your information to the appropriate dispatcher we will ask several additional questions to get more specific details for responding units and we will provide important instructions to you prior to their arrival. Our highly trained call takers provide potentially life-saving instructions like how to perform CPR, control bleeding, deliver a baby or do whatever the situation demands until help arrives. If you are in danger, you may be instructed to leave the building, secure yourself in a room, or take other protective actions.
While you might not understand why we ask certain questions, or it may seem trivial to you, know that they are for your safety and that of the responders coming to assist you. Please try to keep your answers focused on the question and as brief as you can; we will ask more questions if needed.
Don’t guess or assume answers – if you really don’t know, then tell us that.
Don’t withhold information – if you know who a suspect is but you don’t want to say, you could be seriously jeopardizing the safety of an officer.
Call volume in the 9-1-1 Communications Center fluctuates through the day. At any time, we can receive numerous high-priority calls, or perhaps several calls regarding a single incident. This may mean you receive a recorded message. Please, DO NOT hang up! Your call will be answered by the next available call taker.
If you mistakenly dial 9-1-1, please do not hang up before the 9-1-1 call taker answers the phone. The information from your phone still enters our system, and if you aren’t on the phone when the call taker answers, our policy is to send an officer to your location to ensure that you are safe. If you change your mind about needing assistance, stay on the line and explain that to the 9-1-1 call taker. The time spent calling people back who have inadvertently dialed 9-1-1 takes time away from people who need emergency help.
Here are some basic tips for calling 9-1-1. Reading these now may help you if an actual emergency occurs:
1. Stay calm. Speak clearly. Emergency units (police, fire or ambulance) rely on the information you give to get to you as soon as possible and to be able to help you.
2. Give your address or location and phone number. Your address or location is vital information, and we cannot send help if we don’t know where you are.
3. Quickly and briefly describe your problem. As soon as we know what you need, we will know who to send to help you (police car, ambulance or fire truck). Get to the point as soon as possible.
4. Describe yourself and/or the suspect. Tell the 9-1-1 call taker where you are and what you look like, including what you are wearing. We want officers who are arriving on the scene to know who they can contact and that you are not a potential suspect. In appropriate situations you will be asked to describe the suspect including race and age. These questions are not a determinant of whether or not a police officer will be sent but rather to provide the police officer information on what the suspect looks like.
5. Listen to the 9-1-1 call taker. Answer their questions and follow any instructions. Remain on the line until the 9-1-1 call taker says it is okay for you to hang up.
6. Remember: Answering questions does NOT delay your help. At times the dispatcher is sending units while your calltaker gets additional information from you.
YOUR safety is our number one concern.
by Police Chief James Johnson
Statistics for the first half of 2012 show crime in each of the County’s 10 precincts trending downward.
Data provided by our Crime Analysis Unit show that Part I crimes – the most serious crimes – decreased by 8.6 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the previous five-year average for the same time period. Total crime – Part I and Part II – declined by 5.4 percent from the previous five-year average.
Before we get into the details, a word about how we look at crime statistics in Baltimore County: In 2011, we began comparing current crime data against the previous five-year average rather than against the previous year. In any given year, a host of factors – weather is one of the most significant – may cause crime to spike up or down. Such short-term comparisons often do not provide a true picture of local crime. I believe we should focus on trends, on whether crime is rising or falling over the longer term.
In the first six months of 2012, Part I violent crime decreased by 348 cases from the previous five-year average for the same period. There were 1,942 violent crimes in the first six months of the year, down from the previous five-year average of 2,290.
Part I property crime decreased by 898 cases; there were 11,268 Part I property crimes from January through June, compared to 12,166 for the previous five-year average. That is a 7.4 percent decrease from the previous five-year average.
Rape, which increased by nine cases, from 71 to 80, is the only category of Part I violent crime that exceeded the previous five-year average during the first six months of the year. The other types of violent crime all dropped:
- Homicide decreased by five cases, from 15 to 10
- Robbery decreased by 88 cases, from 726 to 638
- Aggravated assault decreased by 264 cases, from 1,478 to 1,214
All categories of Part I property crime compared favorably to the previous five-year average:
- Burglary decreased by 70 cases, from 2,033 to 1,963.
- Theft decreased by 356 cases, from 8,823 to 8,467.
- Motor vehicle theft decreased by 446 cases, from 1,172 to 726.
- Arson decreased by 26 cases, from 138 to 112.
Total Part I crime – violent crime and property crime – for the first six months of 2012 decreased by 1,246 cases, from 14,456 to 13,210, when compared to the previous five-year average.
Part II crime also declined during the first half of the year. Part II crime includes simple assaults, sex offenses, drug violations, vandalism and many other crimes. During the first half of 2012, Part II crime declined by 509 cases, from 17,862 to 17,353.
In addition, our clearance rates for Part I crime continue to exceed the national average as determined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System. This means we are solving crimes and getting criminals off the street.
I am always cautiously optimistic when providing positive crime news such as this.
Optimistic, because we know we truly are making Baltimore County safer when data over a five-year period shows declines in almost every category of crime. Cautious, because human nature cannot be controlled.
We have an extraordinary team of personnel committed to public safety. We are focused on crime prevention and reduction, using technology and partnerships to continue the great crime reductions we have experienced over the last several years.
As always, we will look closely at the next set of crime statistics to see if the downward trend holds. The never-ending work of determining the best strategies to keep Baltimore County safe continues.
By Police Chief James Johnson
Ever since two widely publicized gun incidents in our schools – one on August 27 and another on September 11 – I have stressed how critically important it is for gun owners to lock up their weapons.
Both the Perry Hall High and Stemmers Middle incidents occurred because kids were able to obtain a gun. In the Stemmers Run case, the grandfather of the boy who brought the handgun to school was charged for violating Maryland law, which requires that gun owners secure loaded firearms from children 15 and younger. The law did not apply in the Perry Hall shooting, because the suspect’s father’s shotgun was kept unloaded.
Baltimore County Police will continue to hold violators of the “access to minors” law accountable, and we will continue to encourage gun owners to secure unloaded weapons, even though the law doesn’t require it.
In addition, County Executive Kamenetz and I today announced a new gun lock distribution program that, we believe, makes it as easy as possible for gun owners to secure their firearms.
The program is simple: We are making a basic but law enforcement-tested gun lock available – free of charge – at all 10 police precincts and the Public Safety Building in Towson. Gun owners who show proof that they are Baltimore County residents may receive up to three locks.
In a perfect world, all gun owners would store their weapons in a strong, heavy safe. In the real world, that option is neither practical nor affordable for many people.
The cable locks we are providing are both practical and affordable. The Baltimore County Police Foundation – a wonderful non-profit partner dedicated to supporting quality police service – donated $4,700 to help us purchase 2,000 locks.
The locks – available immediately -- are easy to use and compatible with most handguns and long guns. When you visit a precinct or the Public Safety Building to obtain a lock, our officers will demonstrate how to use it and will include instructions with the locking device.
With this new program, there simply is no excuse for leaving firearms unsecured.
Those of us who are legally qualified and choose to own guns have a right to do so. We also have a responsibility to keep these weapons from being misused by children, criminals and others with no business handling guns.