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Dispatchers: 911 hang-up calls always taken seriously

WHEELING, W.Va. - Officers in Westerville were responding to a 911 hang-up as a "potential domestic" situation when they were fired upon. 

This has people asking, how do police typically respond to 911 calls, and are they prepared to address potentially violent situations when responding?

Director Theresa Russell says hang-up calls are a daily occurrence in the Ohio County 911 office.

"We've received probably 14 in the last month that we sent an actual response to. We've probably had seven today that were just kids playing or accidentals," said Russell. 

She says they are all responded to in the same way.

The first thing they will do is call back and if they hear fighting or yelling in the background, or if their a history of domestic calls from that address, they will send two officers to respond. 

Russell says if you are in danger and calling to report a domestic, the most important thing to give is your address.

"We're going to ask questions, and we're going to try to get as much information as possible. At the very least, we need that address. All officers really are going to treat that domestic as a high priority situation because their lives are in danger," said Russell. 

Family Violence Prevention Program director Patricia Flanigan says if you do not know your address or where you are, give dispatchers some landmarks that may help them find you. 

If you can, give them details about the situation. 

"They absolutely should tell them if there are weapons in the house. Maybe be a little bit more specific about what we're wanting to know. Are they armed with a knife? Are they armed with a bat? Are they armed with a sledgehammer? Any of these things, everyday things that we have in our home, can be used against us as a weapon," said Flanigan. 

Cell phones that have disconnected service can still call 911, but Flanigan and Russel say it is important for people to know that your location cannot be traced from those disconnected cell phones.

Russel says if your children accidentally or playfully call 911, they recommend you calmly explain why this is not allowed. 

They say scolding them may discourage them from calling 911 in an actual emergency. 


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