The Richmond Police Department Communications Center is the contact and answering point for 911 emergency and non-emergency phone calls for the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito.
Our staff of dispatchers and call takers service approximately 134,000 residents in those communities, answer about 200,000 9-1-1 and non-emergency phone calls annually, and handle an estimated 40,000+ incidents of proactive enforcement activities by field units every year. Every employee in the center is California P.O.S.T. and National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatchers EMD® certified, and participate in yearly training updates.
Some of the dispatchers’ duties include gathering critical information during emergencies and coordinating the needed response by dispatching appropriate police, fire, and medical units. To aid in their duties, dispatchers use a modern computer aided dispatch system (CAD) and a recently installed state of the art radio system that is able to communicate with many other local police and fire agencies as well. Additional tools that are used within the center include the ShotSpotter® gunshot detection system, a computerized 9-1-1 phone system, the City of Richmond camera system, the Community Alert Network siren system, and several internet and computer based programs and systems that allow for interaction with other agencies or to gather and research needed information for incidents, answer questions for callers, or refer them to the department or agencies that can best help them.
When encountering calls for medical assistance, our dispatch staff is trained and certified to provide critical and non-critical medical instructions over the telephone to aid in the care of the patient prior to emergency units arriving on scene. Through a regular system of review and training, our center has been recognized as an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) since May 2001 with the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch. This distinction is granted to communication centers that regularly achieve or surpass professional standards in responding to emergency medical situations.
Communications Dispatchers have a dynamic position that requires excellent customer service skills, the capacity to remain calm under very tense circumstances, and strong multitasking abilities as they are often typically performing more than one task at a time. Dispatchers must be alert to the possibility that situations may escalate quickly or change in their nature, and have the ability to adapt and react appropriately without hesitation. The ability to handle a multitude of circumstances and situations, often times simultaneously is an integral part of a dispatcher’s duty.
Often times, unfortunately, our contact with the public comes at a time when they are in a moment of crises or distress. It is our goal to provide professional services and help, with a genuine concern for the well being of all the members of our community.
Additionally, there are some dispatch personnel that have received specialized training and are part of the Richmond Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team, which can be called out during critical incident situations.
If needed, due to an emergency, disaster, or special event, the center has the ability to move some or all of its dispatch personnel to the Richmond Police Department Mobile Command Center vehicle and continue operating using mobile computers, radios, and phones from there.
9-1-1 is for emergencies only. Call 9-1-1 when there is an immediate threat to life or property and an immediate response from police, fire, and/or medical is needed.
Some of the basic information we need to help you would be:
Where are you? Even with all the modern technologies available, nothing can replace a caller knowing, telling, or verifying with us where they are. A specific address is always best, but at the very least be prepared to give a street/road/highway name, the hundred block or cross street, business name, or landmark that is very near to you.
What happened? Start with the basic reason that prompted you to call. “I need an ambulance….” “Something’s on fire….” “Someone just broke into my home….” Once the basic problem is established, the dispatcher will then guide the conversation to gather pertinent information for the responding units and, as needed, provide instructions to help prior to the units arriving.
**If you call 9-1-1 by accident, DO NOT HANG UP. Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher what happened. If you do not, then there is a high probability that emergency services may be sent to you unnecessarily, and possibly delaying or depriving that response for someone who does need help.
The Richmond Communications Center does receive the cellular 9-1-1 calls that are placed with our geographical area of coverage. However, because of certain limitations in technology, some calls placed near our geographical boundaries will still be received by the California Highway Patrol, and then forwarded to our center. Conversely, we occasionally receive calls that are not in our jurisdictional area and will need to transfer you to the agency that handles where you are at. Although there have been improvements to cell phone technology over the years,it is important that you remain on the line during the transfer to receive the best help for your emergency.
Most all cell phone calls can be traced to the nearest cell tower, and many do not provide an accurate GPS location of where you might be. It is very important that you are able to tell the 9-1-1 call taker your specific location. Check around you for nearby building addresses, street signs, or business names if needed.
Additional cell phone tips:
If you call 9-1-1 on your cell phone from home, your address will not be visible on the call taker's screen. If you are able to use a land line phone, we recommend it when possible.
Always lock the keypad when not in use to avoid accidental 9-1-1 calls.
If you do accidentally call 9-1-1, please do not hang up. Just stay on the line and tell the dispatcher what happened.
*Do not leave your cellphone where it can be accessed by children. Do not allow old cellphones to be used as toys. Deactivated cellphones without a service plan will still dial 9-1-1.*
Accidental mis-dialing from cell-phones is a growing problem, and tie up needed emergency lines and resources. Please take precautions to prevent this.
Program you local police and fire department 10 digit phone numbers into you cell phone. Be sure to include cities you frequently visit as well. Examples would be the city you work in, shop, go to school in, or cities where you often visit friends or family.
Teach your children about 9-1-1!
Talking with your children about why, how, and when to properly use 911 is an important life lesson and skill they will more than likely need some day no matter what age they are. Early teaching would help get them off on the right foot should they ever need to use it. Some of the most basic but important information would be to make sure they know their full name, address, phone number, and parents full names.
It is equally important to let them know that playing with any phone and calling 911 can cause harm to others as it will not only tie up an emergency line, but if a police or fire response is needed because of their actions, it may delay or prevent an officer or firefighter from responding to someone who actually does need help.
What if it is NOT an emergency or I just have a question?
You would use the non-emergency line of (510) 233-1214 to reach the dispatch center for all of the cities we handle services for.
Examples of common non-emergency situations would be loud noise or music complaints, non-injury accidents, reporting cold crimes that were just discovered, loitering people, parking complaints, identity theft reports, or abandoned vehicles.
For a specific division or department at a police station, you would call the following numbers.
If your need requires a response by police, fire, or medical personnel, you would still call either (emergency) 9-1-1 or (non-emergency) 233-1214.
Local Fire Department Administration
Richmond Fire Department
The Richmond Communications Center dispatchers and call takers use Language Line Service interpreters who assist in communicating with callers that speak different languages. The dispatcher will connect themselves and the caller together with the translation service in a conference call, then use them to gather needed information and assist the caller. The service is able to help in translating over 200 different languages. We strongly encourage any citizen that speaks a different language to still call us directly. Calling a friend or family member first, who then calls us would delay a faster response as well as the benefit gained of a dispatcher that could gather better details and possibly provide aid over the phone while units would be responding to them.
Career Opportunities Available
You can view our job description here:
and receive information about applications here!:
Communication Center Manager
Monday - Friday
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM