When a student calls emergency services, they may not know what the dispatcher is going to ask. To combat this, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department provides tips on what students should expect when they call.
Spencer Conradt, co-interim director of dispatch services, said students should call UNLPD whenever they see any alerting situation on campus, like if there is a crime in progress or if they are a victim of any campus-related crime.
John Backer, police operations captain for UNLPD, said it should never be a question for students on whether they should call UNLPD. Backer said students should always call UNLPD if they want to report anything, if they have any kind of safety concern on campus, even if it is belated or think it is a small issue.
“There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all or a good template of when to call us,” Backer said, “But our dispatchers and our officers are really well-trained on determining what kind of response is needed.”
Conradt said when students call UNLPD, dispatch services will answer the call, and the dispatcher will immediately ask them what is going on. If the student is reporting a crime, the dispatcher will go through standard questions like where are they at, where is the crime occuring, what their name is and what their phone number is, according to Conradt.
The dispatcher asks the caller’s name and phone number in case the call gets disconnected, because then they can call them back immediately, according to Conradt.
Some other questions the dispatcher may ask would be if the suspect had any weapons, was on foot or in a car, a vehicle description and how long ago the incident occurred, according to UNLPD's Crime Reporting page.
Depending on the crime, the caller may be asked in-depth questions like can they see the crime happening and, if so, can they give a description of the person involved in the crime, according to Conradt. A description of the person involved can include gender, age, height, weight, hair color and length, glasses, facial hair and if the person was carrying anything, according to UNLPD’s Crime Reporting page.
Backer said students should call 911 for a crime that is in progress or an immediate life safety issue. Backer said anytime someone is in danger or it is an emergency, UNLPD officers prefer for students to call 911, but UNLPD can still be contacted for those situations as well.
For harassing communications, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and theft, there is specific crime reporting information on the UNLPD’s Crime Reporting page.
Backer said it is extremely important for students to report to UNLPD because they want to know about what crimes are occuring on campus, at what rate crimes are occurring, how to better inform students on crime prevention tips and how to help students who have been affected by crime incidents.
“If it makes them feel unsafe, we want to know and we want to help out,” Backer said. “When in doubt, just call us and we’ll respond.”