Who you gonna call?*
As a preliminary to its November board meeting Action Sandy Hill hosted a presentation by Michael Mason of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Communication Centre. The purpose of the presentation was to describe the services that the centre provides. Many at the meeting were aware of 911 and 311 for emergency and disturbance calls. Fewer at the meeting knew of accessing the Police Reporting Unit through the OPS general number.
The protocol under which the centre operates is that:
- for life and death emergencies or a crime in progress 911 is your call;
- for situations for which a police officer is required at the scene and there is a potential for injuries, calling the general number 613-236-1222 and pressing 1 then 2 at the prompts is your call;
- for those incidents that are not in progress, no medical attention is required and there is no partner involved, the general police number plus extension 7300 will get you where you need to go.
There is a provision for leaving a message in the third option or alternatively the report can be submitted on line.
Mason is the supervisor of the unit comprised of civilian agents who in 2018 handled 91,000 calls. This is about a third of all calls to OPS and generated 35,000 reports of which 20,000 were submitted on line. Michael stressed that these reports are key elements in dealing with crime-related incidents in Ottawa.
Reports taken by the Police Reporting Unit include: missing persons, stolen vehicles, break and enters (residential & commercial), minor assaults, mischief, fraud, drug complaints, traffic complaints, harassing phone calls, suspicious activity (after the fact)…and any other report that does not require police to attend the scene.
The reports are analysed by an investigator who will determine what follow-up action may be required. For example, in the case of a break and enter an officer may be dispatched to assess the scene.
While not perhaps always resulting directly in investigation, arrest and prosecution, they are important data for establishing trends and in some cases providing forensic evidence. He noted that in filing a report for, say, a break and enter, all details and photos are welcome and valuable.
Mason’s parting words in the presentation stressed that in spite of occasional reports on the misuse of 911, if an individual feels threatened for whatever reason that is the number to call.
ASH has undertaken to post his presentation on its website. This will be particularly useful as there are detailed instructions on reporting on line (click for slides, PDF):
* Unfortunately, at time of writing the Ghostbusters phone line is out of order.