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When To Call 911

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Calling 911

When to Use It
The 911 emergency number often becomes a person's lifeline for urgent assistance and should be used to stop a crime in progress or about to occur, a situation where serious injury can occur, or any suspicious activity. 911 should also be used in situations where firefighting apparatus or an ambulance is required.

The 911 service should not be used to report an incident after the fact. Instead, regular police phone lines (705) 675-9171 should be used. Returning home to find that your residence has been broken into or noticing in the morning that your car has been stolen are very traumatic incidents and we understand the various emotions you may be experiencing. From a reporting standpoint, these types of incidents should be called in on a regular complaint line. Parking, traffic, public utility, and noise complaints should all be reported on regular police lines as well. 911 should never be used for road conditions, directions, time checks, or as a source of information for telephone numbers.

Non-Emergency Numbers

  • City of Greater Sudbury 3-1-1
  • Public Health 522-9200
  • Police 675-9171
  • Hospital 523-7100
  • Municipal Fire Services Administration 3-1-1

What to Expect
Calls on 911 are answered: "Police, Fire, Ambulance." Though it may be difficult, try to remain calm. Immediately identify which emergency service you require. If your situation requires more than one emergency agency, advise the call taker what the situation is. Your call may have to be transferred. Ambulances are transferred to the Central Ambulance Communication Center. As a result, if you require an ambulance, your call must be transferred directly to those agencies. You are not being put on hold. You may hear a click and the line may sound temporarily silent, but remain on the line. It will ring again and your call will be quickly answered by the agency directly responsible for dispatching the assistance that you require.

Your call may also be transferred if the police response you require is within the jurisdiction of the Ontario Provincial Police (O.P.P.). This generally involves accidents and traffic complaints on the provincial highways in the region, any calls to the Whitefish First Nations, and to any areas outside the boundaries of the City of Greater Sudbury. If your call requires the Greater Sudbury Police or Fire Service response, the call taker who answers your 911 call will take your information. As best as you are able, try to remain calm and try to answer the questions asked by the call taker.
During the urgency of the situation, some of the questions put to you may seem unimportant or irrelevant. The information gathered by the call taker is vital to the safety of the officers responding as well as any people they encounter at the scene of the incident. During the height of an emergency, the request for a date of birth may seem time-consuming and irrelevant, but almost all databases require a date of birth to process information. With this information, officers can determine who they are about to encounter and what previous history may exist. You may also be asked if alcohol is being consumed. Again, while it may seem trivial or unimportant, officers need to know, as alcohol can seriously impair and alter a person's actions. In most cases, officers are already dispatched and on the way to the scene while additional questions are being asked.

You may be put on hold while the call taker relays important information directly to the dispatcher. Again, officers are already on the way so the time spent on hold will not in any way affect our response time.

During the course of a crime in progress, if suspects leave the area, your assistance in obtaining a description and direction of travel for the suspects is crucial in assisting the police in apprehending them. Individual particulars such as height, weight, hair colour, and a detailed description of clothing worn are beneficial. The colour, make, model, and license plate of a vehicle are also of interest to officers responding.

If your call is not an emergency, you will be asked to call back on a non-emergency number. Time permitting, the call taker may provide you with the proper number to call (705) 675-9171. In most instances, your call will be transferred to a recorded voice that will provide you with that number. If you are not able to copy down the correct phone number, do not call back on 911; simply check the phone book or call directory information. If you are told to call back on a line other than 911, it is not an indication that we feel your call is unimportant. We simply wish to keep the 911 lines open for cases that are in progress or have a serious threat of injury where a delayed response of just minutes may have a detrimental result.

Enhanced 911
Your call to 911 will normally automatically display your name, phone number, and address on a computer in front of the call taker.
In most cases, you will still be asked this information to confirm that the computer display is accurate. Also, there are times that the address where emergency response is required will be different from the address you are calling from. If, for a variety of reasons, the call you make gets disconnected prior to the information being displayed on computer screens, the name, address, and phone number information may still be obtained by tracing the call through the Bell Canada 911 Control Centre in Toronto.

Calling 911 in Error
There will be times when you may accidentally dial into 911. It is important that you remain on the line and let the call taker know
that you dialed in error. Should you hang up without saying anything, 911 personnel have the capability of ringing your phone back immediately. Failure to pick up the line or continually hanging it up will result in officers being dispatched to your residence to check
on the well-being of all present.

Misuse of 911
In addition to risking the safety of people who may need emergency assistance, the deliberate misuse of 911 is a criminal offence that is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. As mentioned earlier, all 911 calls are taped and the location where they originate is readily identifiable. Persons caught making nuisance calls or reporting fake incidents are subject to persecution.

For more information on 911 Services, please click here.

Alternative Responses

Like many other government agencies and the private sector, the Greater Sudbury Police Service has had to find more efficient ways
to utilize its limited resources. As a result, not all calls will be handled in the traditional way, such as having an officer dispatched to
see you.

Resource Desk
Certain types of calls like mischief and theft, where the value of property taken is under $5,000 and there are no suspects, are referred to the Resource Desk. Certain types of crimes where only an attempt is made and there are no suspects are also referred to this desk. Late report accidents that were originally settled among the parties or hit-and-run accidents where there are no suspects are cleared in a similar manner. Break and enter incidents into detached garages and sheds are also resource calls. In all these cases, there are no suspects to consider.

It is understandable that people still wish to see officers to somehow give their complaint more legitimacy. It should be clearly understood that your incident is important to us and you should continue to report it even though it may be cleared in an alternative method. An incident number is generated and can be provided to you for insurance purposes. A police officer will contact you and will submit a report and, in the event of property being recovered, it can be matched to the report. Statistical information on crime patterns is also compiled.

People are also hopeful that fingerprints can be obtained at their particular crime scene. While the Greater Sudbury Police Service has a first-rate Forensic Unit, many factors beyond our control determine whether fingerprints can be obtained. Weather conditions, surface materials, and the wearing of gloves can all affect fingerprints. More importantly, even if fingerprints are obtained, without suspects to compare them to it is unlikely that they would be useful in solving your particular crime.

Traffic Complaints
Complaints of erratic or aggressive driving or other similar traffic offences may be cleared to the traffic branch if the caller would like
the driver contacted and cautioned about their driving habits. If the offence has just occurred, the Communications Centre staff will broadcast details of the complaint so that officers in the area might attempt to locate the vehicle and stop it. After this broadcast, if the vehicle is not located, the incident will be cleared to the traffic branch. An officer from this unit will then contact the complainant at a later date and follow up the incident.

Cheque Fraud/Insufficient Funds
Incidents involving "bounced cheques" are handled directly by detectives in our Fraud branch. You will be asked to attend at the front desk of police headquarters at 190 Brady St. You will need to bring the cheque as well as all supporting documentation. You will be given forms from the officer at the Information desk. Once you fill out these forms, an incident number will be generated and the investigation turned over to the fraud department for follow up.

Ongoing Complaints
A newly developed unit called the Community Response Unit (CRU) investigates ongoing complaints identified by the public and the police. The CRU is responsible for gathering information in relation to the concerns, and focuses specifically on those concerns until the investigation is cleared.

Noise Complaints
One of the functions of officers with the police service is to preserve the peace. As a result, we will endeavour to respond to incidents
of noise complaints. However, if we cannot respond in a timely fashion, we may recommend alternative methods to deal with noise complaints. Should the noise stop, please contact us so these alternatives can be explained to you and our officers utilized for other incidents. You may be contacted after a time to determine if the noise is still bothering you. If not, you may be asked to follow up your complaint with your respective bylaw department. Your complaint has been documented and an incident number can be provided to you. The bylaw department has the authority to send out a letter of warning and set fines. If at any time your call has been cleared or cancelled and the noise begins again, please call us and we will once again attempt to dispatch officers.

Response Times

Once it is determined that your particular situation requires that officers be dispatched to your location, your generated incident will
be assigned a priority. For obvious reasons, unlike most businesses, the Greater Sudbury Police Service cannot handle its calls on a first-come, first-served basis. This may result in delays in the time it takes the officers to see you. Depending on the nature of your particular call, it may continue to remain on the dispatch queue while more recent calls with a more urgent nature are dispatched.
We appreciate your patience and cooperation.

Advising us when you leave the area will help ensure that we don't dispatch officers when you are no longer available. Do not call 911 to get an update on the status of your call or to get a revised time of arrival. Your call will not be forgotten. It is not necessary to call periodically to find out why we have not yet responded. Should a delay result in our dispatching officers to your call, we will likely contact you prior to dispatch to ensure that you are still available. Your assistance in making yourself available -- perhaps later than you would normally like to wait up -- is very much appreciated. Factors such as call loads, court attendance, and manpower will affect our response times. Your call is important to us and we will endeavour to have it dispatched in a timely fashion.

Utilizing Other Departments

It is understandable that when you are not sure where to go for assistance, you may contact the police department and we are here to help you. Many requests for assistance are not the jurisdiction of the police department. Other requests, which traditionally elicited a police response, are now handled by other agencies.

Abandoned Vehicles
Your local bylaw department can remove vehicles that have been left abandoned on private property. They can contact the appropriate tow truck company and also have access to the computer systems required to determine if the vehicle has been stolen.

Dog Bites
If a dog has bitten you or one of your children and is still at large and a danger to others in the area, call police using 911. If the owner has attended and the dog no longer poses a threat to anyone, the call can be handled by contacting your local public health unit and canine control.

CommCent1.JPGAssistance in Picking up Your Belongings
As mentioned earlier, an essential police function is keeping the peace. As a result, officers will stand by should you need assistance in picking up personal belongings from a residence where you do not feel safe doing so yourself. Officers can only stand by as you remove items of clothing and toiletries. The police department cannot remain at the scene while furniture or larger items are removed, nor can they mediate in the division of assets or joint property. Should you require assistance in picking up furniture, you should contact the Sheriff's department at the courthouse who can assist you in this endeavour. It may be advisable to seek legal advice prior to trying to remove such items.

Annoying Telephone Calls
Continuous, harassing phone calls where a serious threat has been made or where the caller is known are police matters and will result in a police dispatch. When you do not know who the caller is and the annoyance continues, you may wish to utilize the *57 feature of Bell Canada. There is a $5.00 fee for this service, but once it is done the information is retained. This information is not automatically available to the police. You should attempt to document all the calls over a period of a number of weeks. Should they persist or become threatening, you may call us for a response.

Landlord/Tenant Disputes
Calls involving evictions, non-payment of rent, insufficient notice given, and similar matters between landlord and tenants are not
police matters. Information should be sought through the provincial government's Landlord/Tenant tribunal at (888) 332-3234 and
(888) 772-9277. If, as a landlord, you have obtained a valid and legal eviction notice and require assistance with the eviction of
tenants, you should contact the Sheriff's department.

Civil Matters
Matters such as breaches of contracts, failure to follow through on promises, unsatisfactory workmanship, and collateral on loans not returned are civil matters. It is extremely difficult for police to mediate these types of situations and are best left for small claims courts. For higher values, legal advice should by sought.

Telephone Fraud
If you feel that you have been contacted by a company and awarded prizes or other incentives that sound too good to be true, most likely they are. The O.P.P. Phone Busters Unit handles contest-type frauds generally perpetuated by phone. They can be reached at (888) 495-8501.

Wild Animals
Any wild animals that are in an area where people are present and as a result are at risk of injury or attack should be reported to the police using 911. However, if you happened to notice an animal that has returned to the bush area, been spotted periodically in the neighbourhood, or is in remote locations, you should report the incident to the Ministry of Natural Resources. They can be contacted at (705) 564-7823. They can provide a referral to set up bear traps.