Dispatcher checking radio computer screen


9-1-1 (nine-one-one) is for reporting emergency events only. Law Enforcement, fire, and medical resources will be sent out directly when there is an immediate threat to life or property.

If you are unsure about what you are reporting is an emergency, call 9-1-1 and assistance will be dispatched to the most critical situations first.

9-1-1 should also be called when there is a good chance of arresting a crime suspect or preventing the development of a serious crime situation by reporting suspicious persons, vehicles, or circumstances, threats of violence or injury, escalating disturbances or actions which if not controlled quickly could lead to an emergency.


The Sheriff's Dispatch Bureau is the primary answering point for 9-1-1 calls within the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County, the Town of Windsor and the City of Sonoma. 9-1-1 calls for law enforcement are processed on-site. Fire and/or Ambulance assistance will be quickly routed on to the appropriate dispatch center of jurisdiction.

Inside the Dispatch Center

9-1-1 calls from land line phones are automatically sent to the emergency dispatch center via dedicated phone lines and receive priority answering. A database display linked to 9-1-1 calls shows caller location and phone number information to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. Calls requesting fire/medical support will be transferred promptly to the appropriate dispatch facility of jurisdiction, along with the accompanying 9-1-1 data display. The 9-1-1 dispatcher will remain on the line until communication has been established with the receiving dispatch center. If there is a situation where the caller hangs up, the 9-1-1 dispatcher will immediately provide the fire/medical dispatcher with the location and nature of the call.

Wireless 9-1-1 calls from cellular phones are initially received at the California Highway Patrol's (CHP) dispatch facility in Benicia, CA. The CHP dispatcher will route law enforcement calls for service to the Sheriff's dispatch center via dedicated phone lines.

Before You Have To Call 9-1-1

Steps to take in preparation for possible emergency situations:

  • Have the 9-1-1 number posted next to or on all telephones.
  • Properly display your house number.
    • Make sure your house number is displayed so that emergency resources can find your home. In an emergency, every second counts. Numbers should be displayed so that they do not blend into the house. Dark on light or light on dark works well. If you live off the roadway and/or have no mailbox, place a sign at the end or your driveway displaying your address information. If you live on a long driveway with many turns please display your house number at each turn or fork in the road.
  • Know the nearest intersections
    • Know the nearest intersecting street to your address. This will help the operator provide directions to your location in cases of duplicate street names.
  • Post Important Info
    • Post a card with your address, family name and telephone number next to the telephone to assist children and visitors in providing that information in an emergency.

When to call 911


Calls to 9-1-1 should be reserved for emergencies such as:

  • A serious medical emergency (chest pains, seizures, bleeding, etc.)
  • Any type of fire (structure, vehicle, brush, etc.)
  • Any crime in-progress (robbery, burglary, prowler, fights, etc.)
  • Any life threatening situation (traffic accident with injuries, etc.).


Calls to 9-1-1 should not be made for cases such as:

  • Noise Complaints , Barking Dogs
  • Complaint Follow-Ups
  • Routine Medical Transports

If you dial 9-1-1 accidently, stay on the line and advise the dispatcher that you dialed in error. Don't hang-up even if you haven't heard the phone ring. The call will go through as a disconnect and a deputy will be sent to your location.

Other Non-Emergency Calls

When making the call

  • Remain as calm as possible.  Take a deep breath and speak clearly.
  • If your house is on fire, YELL to everyone to get out of the house. LEAVE the house and call from a neighbor's or mobile telephone.
  • Know where you are.  If help is needed at another location, advise the operator.
  • Answer the questions the operator asks.  They are necessary to determine the help you need.
  • Keep the answers short and to the point.
  • Follow all instructions given to you by the operator.
  • Stay on the line until the operator tells you to hang up.
  • Turn your outside lights on and if possible send someone out to direct the emergency personnel in.

9-1-1 Education

Parents can enforce proper use of 9-1-1 at home to children pre-school age and up.

  • Remind them that 9-1-1 is to be used only in an emergency.  It is not a toy.
  • Unplug a telephone from the wall jack and have the child practice dialing the number 9-1-1.
  • Act out scenarios where Mommy or Daddy cannot come to the telephone but need help, have one parent act as the 9-1-1 Operator.

Ask the following questions:

9-1-1, What is your emergency?
What is your name?
What is your address?
What is your telephone number?

Remind the child not to hang up the telephone until told to do so by the operator.

Non Emergency Number (Dispatch)  (707) 565-2121

Emergency 911 or 565-2121 (only when calling from a cell phone)