Dial 911 to request police, fire and emergency medical services. A 911 call is toll-free and is accessible through residential, wireless and pay telephones throughout the District.
When to Call 911
Use 911 to report any of the following:
- Any crime in progress or where the offender is still on the scene (or has just left the scene)
- All fires and medical emergencies
- Home and business intruders
- Vehicle crashes involving personal injury, major property damage or traffic tie-ups
- Sighting of a criminal whom you know is wanted by the police
Information You Need to Provide When Calling 911
Providing accurate, complete information is critical when you call 911. Try to remain calm. Speak slowly and clearly.
- When calling 911, your location is the most important aspect of your call. Always be aware of your surroundings in the District as well as what section of the city you're in (i.e. NW, NE, SW, SE)
- If you ever call 911 and hear a hold message, please don't hang up! You may be able to provide new and vital information to first responders.
While the information we receive varies according to the type of incident, you may be asked to provide the following:
- A brief description of the crime or incident
- Time of occurrence
- Location, including street and unit/apartment numbers, if possible
- Extent of injuries or property damage, if any
- Description of any suspects, such as gender, race, height, weight, clothing, hair color/style, facial hair, and scars, marks or tattoos
- Description of any weapons used
- Description of suspect vehicle, including make/model, color, tag numbers (including jurisdiction), and whether there are temporary tags on the vehicle
- Direction of suspect flight: down what street/alley; on foot, bicycle or motor vehicle
Callers to 911 need not reveal their names, addresses, or phone numbers if they wish to remain anonymous when reporting a crime or incident. Simply tell the call-taker you wish to remain anonymous, and ask the call-taker to tell the responding officers that you do not want the police to come to your home.
Help for 911 Callers Who Do Not Speak English
Callers who do not speak English, or who feel more comfortable communicating in a language other than English, can still access 911 services. There are call takers at the center who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, Japanese, Russian, Korean and Yoruba. In addition, call takers have immediate access to a language translation service through which translations can be made available in more than 100 different languages and dialects. If necessary, callers should tell the call-taker they want a language translator to help facilitate their call.
Help for 911 Callers Who Are Hearing Impaired
911 is completely accessible to the hearing impaired. We can accept TDD calls, and callers do not have to call a separate TDD number for police, fire or medical emergencies.
Text-to-911 is now available in the District.
How do I use Text to 911?
- When initiating the emergency text, do not use dashes when entering 911 into the "To" field.
- Be brief with your initial contact. (“help”, help needed”)
- Provide the location and nature of your emergency and wait to be prompted for further information and/or instructions.
- Requires a text enabled/capable cellular phone.
- Location Services must be turned on.
- Text messages only. No Photos.
- Text messages must be brief and easily understood.
- Use Plain English. NO abbreviations, shortcuts or slang.
- Voice calls preferred. Text only when you can’t call.