The Communications Section of the Irving Police Department is responsible for answering 911 calls and non-emergency calls from the public. This is the central "hub" at which information flows in and out to emergency responders and citizens. Communications personnel/telecommunicators also take non-urgent reports by phone; they enter stolen vehicles, property, and missing persons, as well as make confirmations on recovered stolen items and valid warrants. Telecommunicators are the "first" first responder on each and every 911 call.
Breakdown of Personnel
Communications is staffed 24/7 and comprised of four shifts, with one supervisor assigned to each shift. Distributed on the shifts are seven Senior Emergency Communications Officers and 53 Emergency Communications Officers.
Additional Information and Resources
Below are some of the more "frequently asked questions" that may provide you with valuable information. In addition to these, please peruse this section for other useful and informative information inclusive of, but not limited to, the following resources:
- 911 for Kids (games/puzzles/songs, etc.)
- 911 Tips
- Internship Program
- Job Opportunities
- National Telecommunicator's Week
- Telecommunicator Emergency Response Task Force (TERT)
- Training Opportunities hosted by IPD
Can I call 911 for non-emergency purposes?
911 is for emergencies only! Don't tie up a 911 line when it is not an emergency.
What are some examples of appropriate times to call 911?
•Anything that could cause someone harm
•Incidents that are in progress / currently taking place
•Suspicious activity that is currently taking place
What is the most important thing I need to know when calling 911?
Know your location! When calling 911 the very most important thing we need to know is where we need to send help.
•Apartments - know the address, name, building, and apartment number for the complex
•Intersections - know the name of the street you are on and the street that intersects with it
What if I speak another language?
911 is for everyone! If you speak another language, ask for someone who speaks your language.
•We have dispatchers who do speak Spanish and if we can get one on the line we will.
•We also utilize a translating service called Language Line. We can get a translator for any language and have the ability to communicate with the deaf / hard of hearing.
•It may take a few moments to get a translator on the line, so be patient and do not hang up.
How does 911 work in the Metroplex?
•Every city is different in how they are organized
•In Irving, the 911 call goes to the Police Department. If it is a Fire / Medical call, it will be transferred to the Fire Department.
•Other cities handle all calls - police, fire, and ambulance and even handle calls from other jurisdictions.
What should I do if no one is answering and I receive a busy signal or message?
Do not hang up before someone answers! If you receive a busy signal or a message, stay on the line unless you are in danger. If you hang up, and call 911 again, you will go to the end of the line for 911 callers. Every time you call 911 and hang up, a dispatcher has to call back the number and investigate the call before going to the next call. So, stay on the line and wait for a dispatcher to answer your call.
What should I do If I have to hang up?
•If you are in danger, please tell the dispatcher and let them know you need to hang up.
•If you can, lay the phone down so we can hear what is going on.
•Otherwise, stay on the line.
What can I expect to happen in the call with the dispatcher?
Try to be calm and speak clearly to the dispatcher. The dispatcher will ask you a lot of questions.
•If you are hysterical, we can't understand what you are trying to say. The quicker we get the information, the faster we can have officers respond.
•We need to know Who, What, When, Where, and sometimes Why.
•The dispatcher is the "ears until the eyes can arrive" - meaning, they hear what is going on and relay the information to the officers who are responding. This information gives the officers an idea of what has taken place and who and what to look for.
•The dispatcher talking to you is not the person who will dispatch the officers. While the initial dispatcher is asking questions, gathering information and entering it into a computer a second dispatcher is viewing the call and dispatching it to the officers. So, do not get frustrated with the number of questions being asked, it is not delaying the officers from responding.
•Tell us if someone has a weapon! We want to keep our officers and citizens safe! A beer bottle or brick can be a weapon if someone is using it to threaten another.
What should I teach my children about 911?
Teach your children their address and phone number!
•Help your child memorize their home address and phone number in case they ever have to call.
•Make sure they know not to play with the phone.
•Practice scenarios with your children and teach them what an emergency is.
•All of Irving's Elementary Schools are given 911 training material for second grade students. Talk to your children.
Can I see or speak with the officer who responds to my call?
•It is up to the caller to tell us if they want to speak to the officer.
•If no contact is needed, the officer will be dispatched to the area and investigate the complaint. If he or she does not find anything they will leave the area and close out the complaint.
•If contact is requested, the officer will make sure they contact the caller prior to clearing the complaint.
Can old, uninitialized (non-service) cell phones dial 911?
Yes. Be careful with old cell phones that do not have a cell service provider.
•Almost 18% of our wireless 911 calls are coming from old cell phones or uninitialized (non-service) cell phones.
•If you hang up with one of these phones we cannot call you back.
•Take the battery out of old cell phones before giving them to children to play with. These phones can still dial 911.
How does 911 Work?
•When a call from a land line at a residence or business is received, the dispatcher will receive the exact address of the caller.
•When a call is received from a cell phone, the dispatcher will receive an approximate location of the call.
•Sometimes cell phone calls "bounce" to the next tower and are received at the wrong 911 center. When this happens, the dispatcher determines which city should have received the call and will transfer the caller to the correct location.
•When a call from a internet or cable phone is received, the dispatcher will receive the address that the customer listed when initially obtaining the service. Always update your registration information if you move.
The Irving Police Department and a number of other agencies have gone live with Text-to-911. While placing a call to 911 is still the preferred method to ask for help, there are times when a voice call is not possible and a text to 911 becomes the best way to ask for help. The information below should clear up some frequently asked questions regarding Text-to-911:
WHY IS TEXTING IMPORTANT?
The preferred method for contacting 911 in an emergency is still to call. Texting 911 is intended for people who are not able to speak due to an emergency such as a home invasion or domestic incident, as well as individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities. Call if you can, text if you can’t. Never text and drive.
DOES TEXT TO 911 REPLACE REGULAR 911 CALLS?
No. You should always call 911 if you can. Sending a text to 911 may take longer than a voice call because the caller must enter the text, have it pass through the system, the 911 call taker has to enter a text response and send it back
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES WITH 911 TEXTS?
You do not have voice contact with the caller, nor can you hear anything from the background. Also, it can take more time for a call taker to respond to a written text message and to get responses from the Texter with important answers to questions.
CAN ALL CELL PHONES SEND A TEXT TO 911?
Texting 911 is not available if you are roaming. A Text or Data plan is required. If texting to 911 is not available in your area or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 911 is not available and to contact 911 by other means.
WILL THE DISPATCHER KNOW WHERE THE CALLER IS WHEN THEY TEXT?
Texting to 911 is different from calling 911. When a call is placed to 911, the call taker will typically receive the phone number and the approximate location automatically. When a text is sent to 911 we still get this information, however it does take longer with texting to verify this information. For this reason, when a text message to 911 is sent, it is important to give the 911 call taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible.
CAN PHOTOS OR VIDEOS BE SENT FROM A SCENE?
Not at this time, 911 can only accept text characters. Messages with pictures, videos or emoticons may not be received so please do not send.
CAN A TEXT BE SENT IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE?
No. Text in English only – interpreters are not available for text at this time.
WILL THIS COST THE PUBLIC MORE MONEY?
No. The 911 system is funded by a fee that is included in your phone service fees.
CAN YOU GROUP TEXT TO 911?
No. Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.