Police: To call or not to call

By Douglas Nagel - Vandalia Crime Prevention Officer

VANDALIA — From time to time we talk to people who will tell officers that they thought about calling the police to report a situation or something suspicious, but then decided they did not want to bother us with something that was “probably nothing.” We usually hear about it only after the “probably nothing” has already become a “definitely something.”

First and foremost, you should call the 911 anytime there is a life threatening situation, such as a fire, car crash, or medical emergency. These are calls where time is of the essence and the faster the police or fire departments get there, the better the chances are for a quick resolve to the incident.

Also, anytime that you witness a crime in progress such as, a person breaking into a home or business, an assault, someone being robbed, or a domestic disturbance, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. This includes observing someone driving erratically. Simply call 911 and provide a description of the car, the driver, if possible, direction of travel, and exactly what the car is doing (driving left of center, swerving, etc.) Be prepared to stay on the line with the dispatcher until they can get a police officer to your location.

These are the most common times that citizens will and should call the police, but there are other times that people don’t call because they think it isn’t important or they don’t want to “bother” us.

If you see or hear something suspicious in your neighborhood, please call the police on the non-emergency number, 937-898-5868. When the dispatcher answers, tell them the nature of the call. You will likely be asked questions regarding your location, name, phone number and any details you can provide. You don’t have to leave your name if you do not wish to do so, but it is helpful to be able to contact you if necessary.

If we are able to be proactive and not just reactive in our approach to fighting crime, then chances are we will be able to stop some crimes before they occur. In order to do this, we need citizens to call immediately when they see or hear something happening. This gives us the ability to respond quickly while the suspect is still on the scene or in the area.

Remember, it is never a “bother” to the police department when a citizen calls for assistance or to report a suspicious circumstance. That is what we are here for and we appreciate it when people let us know what is happening around the city. We cannot be everywhere, and we rely on your eyes and ears to help us keep Vandalia safe.

Some simple tips for calling the Police

1. Use 911 for emergencies, if it is not an emergency call 937-898-5868

2. Never hang up once you call 911 until you speak to the dispatcher, even if it is a mistake, stay on the line and explain when they answer.

3. Always report suspicious circumstances to the police.

4. Be as thorough as possible, provide detailed descriptions and direction of travel to the dispatcher.

5. If you call 911 for an emergency, try to stay calm, which will make it easier for the dispatcher to get important information from you and the police arrive quicker.

6. Remember to call WHEN something is happening, if you wait hours or until the next day, it may be the difference between an arrest and someone getting away with a crime.

7. Write down our phone number and put it in an obvious place in the house so you will have it if you need it. Also, program it into your cell phone.

8. Let your neighbors know that you want them to watch out for you and your property and that you want them to call the police if they see/hear anything out of the ordinary.

9. Always call us to investigate a crime, do not try to intervene.

10. It is never a “bother” to notify us of something that just doesn’t seem right or looks suspicious, that is what we are here for.


By Douglas Nagel

Vandalia Crime Prevention Officer

Reach Vandalia Crime Prevention Officer Douglas Nagel at 415-2272 or by email at dnagel@vandaliaohio.org.

Reach Vandalia Crime Prevention Officer Douglas Nagel at 415-2272 or by email at dnagel@vandaliaohio.org.