Communications Center

The Communications Center is staffed with 14 dispatchers and two Supervisors. The Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These Public Safety Dispatchers strive to accomplish the Center's mission statement, as well as the San Leandro Police Department's which says that we are committed to providing professional police services and safety to our community in a manner in which we, ourselves expect. The Dispatch Center has a direct link with two separate translation services funded by the state, which include Language Line and Voiance. These language services provide emergency translation for public safety in more than 140 languages and dialects. After normal business hours, the unit is also tasked with calling out City of San Leandro on-call personnel for Public Works emergencies.

In 2020, the San Leandro Police Department's Public Safety Dispatchers processed over 113,000 phone calls. The total 911 calls were 31,561, of which 25,388 (80%) came from cell phones. Due to the continuous increase in the usage of cell phones, the number of calls from a wireless device rose by 3% in 2020. Wireless 911 calls will continue to rise as the use of landline telephones decrease and mobile phone users increase. Dispatchers work diligently to verify the caller's location to provide emergency responders with accurate information. 911 callers are often unable to provide their exact location, which extends the time it takes to send help.

When to Call 911

You should only call 911 when you are reporting an emergency. An emergency is a situation that threatens human life or property and demands immediate attention. A crime that is in progress is a good example of an emergency. One that happened several minutes prior to calling with no suspect information is a non-emergency.

Do not call 911 for non-emergencies. This causes delays in the handling of true emergencies. If you have a non-emergency, call the center at 510-577-2740.

You return home to discover a break-in…Burglars may still be insideYou're confident burglars are no longer present.
Noisy neighborsYou hear loud fighting and crashing soundsDogs barking or loud music
You've just been in a car accidentThere are injuries, or cars blocking traffic that can't be movedNo injuries. You can move cars to the side of the road.
Your child has a skateboard accidentThey seem disoriented (possible head injury)They have a minor cut on their leg.
Your significant other is having an asthma attackThey can't breathe.They are a little winded, but the inhaler restores them.
Abandoned VehiclesA child is trapped inside.No hazard.
Suspicious personsPeering into house or car windowsSitting in a parked car for a long time.
Animal ControlAnimal hit by a car that is still aliveStray or deceased animal

What to Expect When You Call 911

Your call will be answered by a trained professional who will ask you the following questions:

  • What is your location?
  • What is your phone number?
  • What is your emergency?

Please be clear and concise with the dispatcher. The Communications Center is staffed by a small number of hard-working professionals who do not have the time to carry on a long conversation. No one wants their emergency call delayed by unnecessary conversation. Do not take it personally if s/he tries to redirect you with a direct line of questioning or ends the call more quickly than seems friendly. Dispatchers are under pressure to complete calls rapidly and efficiently, so time and phone lines are made available for the next emergency.

Crimes: Suspect Descriptions

When calling 911 to report a crime, be prepared to give a description of any suspects with as many details as possible, such as:

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Age
  • Height/Weight
  • Hair Color/Length
  • Eye color
  • Clothing: hat, jacket, shirt, pants, shoes
  • Scars, marks tattoos

Vehicle Details

If suspects are driving a vehicle, give as many details as possible, such as:

  • Color
  • Make/Model
  • License Plate Number
  • Style: SUV, 2-door, 4-door, truck
  • Old or new
  • Number of occupants
  • Direction of flight
  • Features that stand out: dents, stickers, missing parts, etc.

Cell Phone Users

Cell phone numbers and locations are not always traceable, so callers must be vigilant in providing location and call-back numbers when calling 911 from their cell phone.

The San Leandro Police Department has integrated texting into its 911 answering system, allowing community residents and visitors in need of emergency services to reach a police dispatcher via text when calling is not an option.

The department worked with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks to make text-to-911 available for anyone needing assistance within the City of San Leandro. Incoming text-to-911 communications are answered from the same console as voice calls monitored and operated by a police dispatcher who has been trained to receive emergency text messages. When the person texting is determined to be within another jurisdiction, 911 texts can be transferred to the most appropriate agency, whether EMS, Fire, or Police, if that agency accepts texts.

In general, people with Police, Fire, or Medical emergencies should call 911 but, when they cannot call, text-to-911 would be appropriate to use. When texting 911, the initial message should be short and include the location of the emergency. The person texting should also ask for Police, Fire, or Medical assistance. The next step is to answer the dispatcher's questions and follow the instructions of the police dispatcher. People are advised to keep responses short and simple. Emojis will not go through, and other short abbreviations might not be understood.