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Communications Unit

9-1-1 Calls

Local 9-1-1 calls are handled by the police department's Communications Unit (CU). The CU exists to translate citizen 9-1-1 and non-emergency telephone service requests into the appropriate action, and to dispatch police, fire, medical and other city services via telephone, radio and/or data communications.

Emergency Communications Unit Services

The Communications Unit is staffed with a total of 16 Public Safety Dispatchers, 4 of which are Lead Dispatchers.  The unit is managed by a Supervisor who reports to the Bureau of Support Services Manager.  The unit is staffed 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.  These dedicated Public Safety Dispatchers strive to accomplish the mission of the 9-1-1 Communications Unit, which is to provide the citizens of Tracy with both emergency and non-emergency police services in a courteous, professional and timely manner.  The dispatchers has a direct link with Language Line, as a state funded 9-1-1 program, which provides emergency translation for public safety in more than 140 languages and dialects.After normal business hours the unit is also tasked with calling out the City of Tracy on-call personnel for Public Works and Code Enforcement emergencies.

In 2019, the Tracy Police Department's Public Safety Dispatchers handled a total of 137,816 telephone calls, 0.6% more than the amount handled by the dispatchers in 2018.  In 2019, emergency 9-1-1 calls totaled 32,479, out of which 26,692 were placed using cellular phones.  Due to the continuous increase in the usage of cellular phones, the number of calls from a wireless device rose by 5.5% in 2019.  Wireless 9-1-1 calls will continue to rise as the use of landline telephones decrease and mobile phones users increase.  Dispatchers work diligently to verify the caller's location in order to provide emergency responders with accurate information even though wireless 9-1-1 callers are often unable to provide their exact location, extending the time to takes to send help 

When to call 9-1-1

You should only call 9-1-1 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 has already happened is a non-emergency.

Do not call 9-1-1 for non-emergencies—this causes delays in the handling of real emergencies. If you have a non-emergency, call the center at 209-831-6550.

Never call 9-1-1 for information, or to find out how it works.

Your return home to discover a break-in...Burglars may be still inside.You're confident burglars are no longer present.
Noisy neighbors...You hear loud fighting and crashing sounds.Dogs barking or loud music.
You've just been in a car accident...There are injuries. Or cars blocking traffic that can't be moved.No injuries. You can move cars to the side of the road.
Your son has a skateboard accident...He seems disoriented (possible head injury).He has a minor cut on his leg.
Your husband is having an asthma attack.He can't breathe.He's a little winded, but his inhaler restores him.
Emotional problems...You may hurt yourself or others.You're feeling a bit blue.
A fire...Any fire you cannot quickly put out.A stove fire that goes out when you put a lid on the pan.
Abandoned vehicles...A child is trapped inside.No hazard.
Suspicious persons...Peering in the windows of your neighbor's home.Sitting in a parked car for a long time.

What to Expect When You Call 9-1-1

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

  1. What is your location?
  2. What is your call back number?
  3. What is your emergency?

Please get to the point and be concise. The CU is staffed by a small number of hard-working individuals who rarely have time for chat. No one wants their emergency call delayed by unnecessary conversation. Don't take it personally if s/he tries to hurry you along or end the call more quickly than seems friendly. Operators are under pressure to complete calls rapidly and efficiently, so time and phone lines are made available for the next emergency.

Cell Phone Users

Because cell phone numbers/locations aren't traceable, be vigilant in providing location and call-back number when calling 9-1-1 on your cell phone.

Crimes: Suspect Descriptions

When calling 9-1-1 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

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

  • License plate number
  • Color
  • Make, model
  • Style: SUV, 2-door, 4-door, small truck
  • Old or new
  • Number of occupants
  • Which way did it go
  • Features that stand out: dents, stickers, missing parts, etc.

Medical Emergencies

When you are reporting a medical emergency, the operator will ask you questions about the injured or sick person. Be assured that, while they're gathering information, another dispatcher is sending the paramedics to your location. Multi-tasking is the key to efficient operations.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart attack victims often have symptoms for many hours before calling for assistance. However, the best chance for survival depends on rapid treatment.

Severe chest pain is what most people think of as a heart attack. However, according to the American Heart Association, chest discomfort can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. In most cases, it lasts for more than a few minutes, or leaves and comes back.

Other heart attack symptoms include:

  • Arm, back, neck, jaw or stomach discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

If you experience these symptoms or otherwise suspect a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.

CU Personnel

To ensure fitness for the job and integrity, all communications personnel go through extensive testing and a background investigation before they are hired. Entry-level dispatchers receive approximately one year of training before being released to work without the direct supervision of a training officer.

CU Technology

The CU uses state-of-the-art technology to provide fast and effective emergency services:

  • Two-way multiple-channel radios
  • Mobile computers
  • Computer-aided dispatch
  • Computer-based records management
  • Computer-based telephone system

Along with a number of enhanced statistical gathering features, which are transparent to the caller, the phone system provides immediate access for hearing- and speech-impaired persons calling for assistance, as well as caller-ID information.

Using these tools, the CU is able to process requests and expedite the dispatch of emergency personnel in an emergency. In addition to providing useful statistical information, our computer systems enable us to track hazardous locations and special information about residences (i.e. the location of a disabled person, at-risk infants or persons/locations that may pose a threat to the safety of the public or public safety personnel.

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