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Calling 911: The Recorder Is Rolling

When you need help, 911 is the first call you make.  You know intuitively that help is waiting on the other end of the line.  In a stressful situation, such as if you have shot someone in self-defense or been attacked or threatened, it’s nice to know that a helpful dispatcher is just three digits away.

What you may not think of when you’re dialing, though, is that the call is being recorded from the first moment it’s answered.  That’s not necessarily a problem, but it is something to keep in mind.  As the saying goes, “loose lips sink ships.”  If there is something you wouldn’t want to share with the world (or a court of law), don’t mention it on the phone call. Keep it to yourself or share it with an attorney at a later time. 

You are not obligated to speak to the police.  The 4th – 6th Amendments to the Constitution provide all the rights you need to protect yourself, so don’t worry about keeping quiet when police ask questions.  Just provide enough information so that they can find your location and provide assistance.  You can always provide more details, if you want, while having an attorney present.  The police cannot retaliate against you for that.

Stick to the facts of what happened and tell the dispatcher what you need.  Be clear and concise.  If you were involved in a shooting, say so.  If you need medical attention, ask for it.  If you are presently in danger, be emphatic about it.  Breathe deeply, be calm if you can, and keep your mind on what matters: getting help as soon as you can.

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