"911…It’s not so bad"
Residents of McKees Rocks, before we dive into the deep end of some peoples’ frustration with 911, I would like to introduce myself for those of you that do not know me. My name is Rick Deliman and I am the Chief of Police in McKees Rocks. I have been with the department for 25 years and have been the Chief for almost 5 years.
Call 911. That has been ingrained in our brains for as long as I remember. When you need help, “Call 911”. I am going to try and explain to you how the 911 system works and maybe dispel some rumors or put some minds at ease with a process that aggravates some people.
Over the course of my career and on a regular basis, I hear complaints about people calling 911 and not liking the process. Some of the complaints I hear are, “they ask too many questions”, “it takes too long”,” the dispatchers are rude and impersonable”. I am not standing up for the call takers who answer the phone, but their job as call takers is to get the best information, they can from you about the call so it can get passed onto the police. Sometimes they must ask a lot of questions to get that information. They may come off as dry and impersonal but forget about that and just remember the more information you can provide them by answering their questions, the more information they can provide to the police.
When you call 911, as I said above, the call taker is trying to get all the information they can from you, so the police have the best information available to respond to your call. And that call taker as they are asking you questions and documenting your responses, is also sending that information onto the dispatcher who dispatches for our department. I bet many of you did not know the person answering the phone is not the person who also dispatches the police. There is a specific desk assigned to a particular area. The calls are dispatched to the police based on priority. So, an assault call is going to get dispatched before a barking dog call. Makes sense doesn’t it? You may want the police there now for an argument with your neighbor over a parking spot, but a burglary, robbery or an assault is going to take priority.
As you are answering the call takers questions, that information is put into a computer and sent over to the dispatcher who is dispatching for our department. So being on the phone with 911 is not in any way slowing down the process of the police being dispatched. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I received a call on my cell phone from a person who heard gun shots. By the time I finished the conversation, got up from my office chair and walked into the other room to tell the other officers I was working with about the phone call, 911 was dispatching us to the call. That is fast you have to agree.
The last point I want to make is, posting information and concerns on Facebook is not doing the police any good. I do not have Facebook and even if I did, the chances of me looking at Facebook at the exact time something occurred is not possible. But I hear from people about things that happen, that instead of calling 911, someone posted it to Facebook. If it concerns you enough to take to social media to let others know or start a conversation about, then you should be calling 911. We as a police department are only successful with your help. Each resident knows what is going on in your neighborhood and what is out of the ordinary. But we cannot do anything about those issues that concern you without knowing about it. We as the police know a lot of things, but not everything. The residents of McKees Rocks collectively know everything that is going on. Now just share that information with us. Call 911.
Chief Rick Deliman, McKees Rocks PD