FAQs

Calling 911

Are there any times I should not call 911?

Sometimes it may be more appropriate to call South Sound 911’s non-emergency number: Call 844-821-8911 within the city limits of Bonney Lake, Fife, Milton, Puyallup or Sumner; or 253-798-4721 or 800-562-9800 in all other areas of Pierce County.

There are also other resources which may be more appropriate. For example:

– Tune to the local news media for updates on weather and road conditions
– Report power outages to your utility provider.
– Find a businesses phone number online or by calling 411.

Can I text 911?

In Pierce County – NO. Like most 911 centers, South Sound 911 cannot receive text, photo or video messages via 911 or the non-emergency number.

The 911 system was built in the 1970s and was designed to handle only landline telephone service. However, a goal of “Next Generation 911,” or NG911, is to have a 911 system that enables the transmission of voice, text, video or data from different types of communication devices to 911 centers and to emergency responders.

South Sound 911 hopes to implement text-to-911 services in the near future and we will announce and advertise this service as soon as it is available.

How can I request a presentation about 911 or South Sound 911 for my group/organization?

Feel free to contact South Sound 911 for a free community education presentation or event presence! Details are found on our website’s Community Relations page

How do I get a copy of a 911 call?

Washington state law requires South Sound 911 keep recordings of 911 telephone conversations for 90 days. The public may request copies of specific 911 calls by submitting a Public Records Request online: Public Records Requests

How long will it take you to answer my 911 call?

South Sound 911 will answer your call as quickly as possible. In 2017, South Sound 911 answered 90.4% of all 911 calls in 10 seconds or less.

However, call volumes fluctuate depending on the time of day and the time of year — and some would say depending on the phase of the moon! So one thing you can do to help us answer your 911 call is to stay on the line. DO NOT HANG UP, even if you dialed 911 accidentally.

Regardless of how many times the phone rings, we will answer it. Hanging up hinders our ability to answer other 911 lines because we are required to call you back to ensure there is no emergency.

How many emergency/non-emergency calls does South Sound 911 receive each year?

In 2017, South Sound 911 answered 881,137 calls. Of those 521,611 were emergency 911 calls and 359,526 were non-emergency calls.

If I call 911 from my cell phone, do you know where I’m at? What if I’m hiking or out in the wilderness?

When you call from a cell phone, the information the call taker sees is limited. Unlike with most landlines, a cell phone cannot provide exact location/address information. It is important for you to know where you are at all times in case of emergency so you can describe your location as precisely as possible – including cross streets, mileposts or landmarks.

Cellular service may not be available in some areas or in the wilderness. If service is available, a 911 call for help will be picked up by the nearest cellular tower in the most direct line of sight to your location. Your call could be answered by any number of 911 centers. Since these 911 centers may be located outside the boundary of the calling area, emergency responders will have no way of knowing where you’re calling from unless you tell them. Be prepared to provide your location – including trailhead and nearest city, destination or waypoints – and know how to increase your cell phone’s signal strength.

Ways to increase your cell phone’s signal strength include:

• Point your antenna up
• Find a clearing
• Gain elevation
• Turn your body (your body may obstruct the signal)

Remember, when you are in a remote location, help may be several hours away – or longer. If your 911 call is disconnected, call 911 again.

Is help sent after I hang up?

Talking to and answering questions asked by a call taker will not delay help from arriving. The call taker enters details from your call into the dispatch system while you’re on the phone; a dispatcher relays information to responders and dispatches available units according to the responding police or fire agency policy and priority. If possible, do not hang up with 911 until told to do so.

What do I do for emergency assistance if there’s no phone service?

It depends on which type of phone service and what other service you have readily available. If VoIP services or telephone landlines are down, try calling with your cell phone. If cellular service is not available, please go to the nearest police or fire station.

What if I accidentally dial 911?

If you dial 911, even by accident, DO NOT HANG UP. This is true even if the call is not immediately answered or if assistance is no longer needed.

Hang-up 911 calls only further delay the answering of emergency calls. South Sound 911’s communications center receives call-back information whenever someone dials 911 and hangs up. A call taker must then call back to determine why the call was made.

What if the caller doesn’t speak English?

It is helpful if the caller can identify his/her language, so the call taker can request an interpreter. While the call taker connects to the interpreter, the caller should stay on the line.

The caller should tell the interpreter what the emergency is, the location, his/her name, and phone number, and answer any questions the call taker asks through the interpreter.

Our friends at the Toronto Police Service produced a series of short videos in multiple languages which may be helpful: Toronto Police Service videos

What information will I need to provide when I call 911?

The address/location, what the problem is (why help is needed), your name, and other details the call taker may ask for including license plate numbers and person or vehicle descriptions.

Remember…

– Stay calm.
– Answer questions concisely, accurately and coherently.
– Help is being dispatched while you are on the line.
– The call taker may keep you on the line and continue asking questions until help arrives.
– Let the call taker guide the conversation.
– Know where you are and/or what is nearby.
– You cannot send a text or video message to 911 or the non-emergency number.

When should I call 911?

Call 911 when it is an emergency and a prompt response is needed. Emergencies requiring 911 are life-threatening or a crime that is in-progress. Examples include a fight or assault occurring at the time, a burning fire or a possibly life-threatening medical problem.

When should I use the non-emergency number?

The non-emergency number is available 24-hours a day and can be used when there is no immediate threat or danger.

Examples of when you should call the non-emergency number:

• Your house or car was broken into, but you did not witness the incident.
• Your runaway child has returned home.
• You need to add additional items to your burglary report, which you previously reported.
• Your car or bicycle was stolen sometime during the day/night.

We have two 911 centers with their own non-emergency numbers:

If calling from within the city limits of Bonney Lake, Fife, Milton, Puyallup and Sumner (and are served by those respective police departments) call 844-821-8911 (toll-free).

In all other areas of Pierce County call 253-798-4721 or 800-562-9800.

When will South Sound 911 offer text-to-911 service?

We look forward to making this service available in the near future, but we have to wait our turn. The State E-911 Coordinator’s Office is working with all counties in Washington state to eventually provide the service statewide. To learn about statewide text-to-911 status and availability, visit the Washington Emergency Management E-911 website.

Concealed Pistol Licenses

Can I apply for a CPL online or by mail?

No. At this time, you MUST apply in-person.

Washington state residents may apply to the municipality or county in which they reside. Non-Washington residents may apply to any agency that is convenient.

How long does it take to process a CPL?

It takes 3-4 weeks to process an application for an original or CPL renewal.

I am in the military/a military dependent and my home of record is not Washington. Does this affect where I may apply?

No. “Residency” and “Home of Record” are different. “Residency” is where you physically live, not where you pay taxes, own property, etc.

I got married/divorced and changed my name. How do I update my name on my CPL?

Updating your name on your CPL is not a requirement; however, if you choose to update your name, you may do so by applying for a replacement CPL. Current fees for replacement CPLs and lamination (if requested) are on our Concealed Pistol License (CPL) page.

I moved. How do I update my address on my CPL?

Updating your address is not a requirement; however, if you choose to update your address on your CPL, you may do so by applying for a replacement CPL. Current fees for replacement CPLs and lamination (if requested) are on our Concealed Pistol License (CPL) page.

Is my CPL valid in other states?

Visit the Washington State Attorney General’s website for reciprocal agreements with other states.

To find out if any other states honor Washington’s CPL, please check with each state you plan to visit.

What do I do if I haven’t received my CPL?

Typically, CPLs take 3-4 weeks to process. The processing time may vary as the background check relies on the responsiveness of other agencies, outside of South Sound 911’s control. Additionally, there may be delays in the mail.

If it has been more than four weeks since your CPL application was submitted, you may contact us for status information. However, CPL application information is protected by law, so we must have proof of your identity before we may release any information. You may provide a copy (photocopy, scanned image, photograph) of the I.D. you presented at the time you applied as such proof. Please email the image of your I.D. to cpl@southsound911.org and we will respond with status information as soon as possible. 

What do I do if there’s a mistake on the CPL you sent me?

If there is a typo or other verifiable mistake on a CPL South Sound 911 issues, we will provide a replacement CPL at no cost. You may either visit the public counter during normal business hours or get a replacement mailed to you. 

To have the replacement license mailed to you, please email a copy of both the incorrect CPL and your driver license (or the photo I.D. shown when you applied) to CPL@southsound911.org. South Sound 911 staff will issue the replacement license and mail it to you with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for you to return the incorrect CPL to South Sound 911.

When is the best time to apply for a CPL?

To ensure your CPL application can be accepted, we recommend applying during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Unfortunately, we’ve had situations when our waiting time exceeds our service hours; when this occurs we stop issuing service tickets in our lobby. To avoid any hardship, we recommend you visit the counter earlier in the day.

If you are applying for a new/original CPL, please note that you may only apply between 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is due to the change in hours we offer fingerprinting services; fingerprints are required for all new/original CPL applications and we cannot accept incomplete applications.

Where can I find more information about Washington state CPLs?

See the Washington State Department of Licensing firearms licensing website or review the state’s RCW 9.41.

Where else is my Washington CPL valid?

Visit the Washington State Attorney General’s website for reciprocal agreements with other states.

Criminal Justice Records

How do I decipher the codes on the CAD Log I received?

South Sound 911 does not have a document containing a breakdown of all codes which may be used, but you may find the Calls for Service Code and Disposition Code lists helpful. 

How far back does South Sound 911 maintain law enforcement records?

South Sound 911 has police reports from the 1960s. Detailed information is required for searches prior to 1974. Reports prior to 2000 may need to be ordered from archives and may take additional time to process.

Audio is typically held for 90 days.

How long is audio maintained by South Sound 911?

Typically, 90 days.

I am looking for court dispositions and/or court orders. Where do I find them?

Contact the issuing court directly. South Sound 911 does not provide court disposition information.

I’m a criminal justice or law enforcement agency, why did I receive a redacted copy of a report?

Release of information is decided by the reporting law enforcement agency. If you have questions or concerns about redactions, please contact the reporting agency directly.

I’m a law enforcement or criminal justice agency; why can’t I have my report right away?

South Sound 911 prioritizes requests from criminal justice and law enforcement agencies. However, our law enforcement agencies require review of some reports before releasing. That process may take a little time.

Is there a cost for a local records check for criminal justice/law enforcement employment?

Depending on the type of records requested/provided, a charge may be assessed.

The city I’m seeking records from is not listed. How do I obtain those records?

Contact the appropriate city directly.

South Sound 911 only provides public record services to the cities listed. List of Agencies and Records

The online Records Request form doesn’t allow me to choose the document/item I need. Where do I get officers’ notes, video, photographs, or anything else now shown on the form?

South Sound 911 only processes public records requests on behalf of certain law enforcement agencies for Incident (police) Reports, CAD Logs, and/or 911 and dispatch audio. Investigative information such as officer notes, video and photographs are held and released by the individual agency. Please contact the relevant agency for access to such information. List of Agencies and Records

The records I’m seeking are not listed. Where may I find additional records?

South Sound 911 only processes public records requests on behalf of certain law enforcement agencies for Incident (police) Reports, CAD Logs, and/or 911 and dispatch audio. Investigative information such as officer notes, video and photographs are held and released by the individual agency. Please contact the relevant agency for access to such information. List of Agencies and Records

What is a local records check?

A local records check includes review of South Sound 911’s police reports where the subject is listed, which may or may not have resulted in criminal prosecution. A local records check does not provide court filing or disposition information.

Which agencies’ reports may I get from South Sound 911?

South Sound 911 only processes public records requests on behalf of certain law enforcement agencies in Pierce County. See the List of Agencies and Records for more information. List of Agencies and Records

Fingerprints

Can your office provide ink fingerprints?

No. South Sound 911 provides inkless (scanned) fingerprints only. If you require black ink fingerprints, you will need to contact a private business which provides fingerprinting services.

Alternatively, you may also visit the Washington State Patrol office in Olympia (3000 Pacific Ave., Suite 202; Olympia, WA 98501). We recommend that you call their office at 360-534-2000 to verify current pricing, hours, and procedures/policies. Currently, their office can provide ink or inkless (scanned) fingerprints.

May I bring in my own fingerprint card or one provided to me by another agency?

No. South Sound 911 provides inkless (scanned) fingerprints that prints directly onto an FBI FD-258 fingerprint card. We are unable to print onto other fingerprint cards.

May I make an appointment to get fingerprinted?

No. Fingerprint services are only offered on a walk-in basis between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., excluding holidays.

 

May I request a copy of my fingerprints taken on a previous visit?

No. Fingerprints are not kept on file. If you want copies for future use, we suggest purchasing extra cards when you visit.

Will you send/email my fingerprints to the state/federal/other agency that is requesting them?

In most instances – no. Your fingerprints will be provided to you; it will be your responsibility to submit the fingerprint card(s) to the requesting agency or business.

South Sound 911 only electronically transmits fingerprints for original concealed pistol license (CPL) applicants, for local criminal history inspections needed for South Sound 911/Pierce County employment, and for certain licenses referred from the Pierce County Auditor’s Office (taxi, entertainers, peddlers, etc.).

Next Generation 911

What is Next Generation 911 (NG911)?

Next Generation 911 or NG911 refers to an initiative aimed at updating the 911 service infrastructure in the United States and Canada to improve public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. It intends to enable the public to transmit text messages, images, video and data to a 911 center. It is a common misconception that 911 centers can already receive these types of information. (The current 911 system was built in the 1970s and was designed to handle only landline telephone service.)

What is the goal of NG911?

To have a 911 system that enables the transmission of voice, text, video or data from different types of communication devices to 911 centers and to emergency responders.

Additionally, NG911 is being designed to provide redundancy in case a 911 center becomes inoperable for any reason, whether it is a manmade or natural disaster. In such a case, emergency calls would automatically reroute to another PSAP for response.

In short, if 911 centers can accept information from citizens from a variety of technology sources, emergency services are more readily available to citizens – and valuable, potentially life-saving information and images can be quickly relayed to responders.

When can we expect NG911?

Currently, NG911 is in its early stages of planning. NENA (National Emergency Number Association) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are working on NG911 projects and the state of Washington has an Enhanced 911 (E911) Advisory Committee that is working on a deployment plan.

NG911 will require a new emergency response network architecture be designed, along with new and/or modified standards for data transmission/receipt and 911 call-taker and management processes, procedures and training. Data security issues must also be dealt with, as will funding issues. Changes will likely come in phases.

For more information on NENA’s NG911 Project: NENA NG911

When will South Sound 911 offer text-to-911 service?

We look forward to making this service available in the near future, but we have to wait our turn. The State E-911 Coordinator’s Office is working with all counties in Washington state to eventually provide the service statewide. To learn about statewide text-to-911 status and availability, visit the Washington Emergency Management E-911 website.

Public Records Requests

Can I submit a request without a case/incident number?

Yes. Please use the incident details section to specifically describe what you are requesting. Please include all of the information you have, such as the date/time and address/location of the incident, and the names of anyone involved.

How do I decipher the codes on the CAD Log I received?

The Public Records Act does not require South Sound 911 to provide research services, to analyze data, answer written questions, or to create records in response to a request.

South Sound 911 does not have a document containing a breakdown of all codes that may be used, but you may find the Call for Service Code and Disposition Code lists helpful.

Calls for Service and Disposition Codes

How do I find out about a warrant or protection order?

South Sound 911 does not release information about warrants or protection orders. Please contact the court – whichever one issued (or might have issued) the warrant or order to verify its existence or status.

How do I follow-up on my police report? What is the status of the investigation?

South Sound 911 provides 911, dispatch and records management services for law enforcement; we do not investigate incidents. For information about or to check the status of a case or incident, you must contact the relevant law enforcement agency.

How do I get information about vehicle accidents in my neighborhood or in a specific area?

South Sound 911 does not have a way to provide police/incident reports or CAD logs with that level of refinement. You may be interested in requesting “Collision Data Reports” from the Washington State Patrol (WSP). Please visit their website for more information: WSP Collision Data Reports

How far back does South Sound 911 maintain law enforcement records?

South Sound 911 has police reports from the 1960s. Detailed information is required for searches prior to 1974. Reports prior to 2000 may need to be ordered from archives and may take additional time to process.

Audio is typically held for 90 days.

How long do you keep recordings of 911 calls?

Washington state law requires South Sound 911 keep recordings of 911 telephone conversations for 90 days.

How long will it take for me to receive my records or 911 audio request?

South Sound 911 processes public records requests on behalf of the agencies it serves; however, the applicable law enforcement agency oftentimes must approve requests before South Sound 911 may provide copies. It is common for requests to experience delays during this process and requestors will be notified by email when the materials are available for download via the Records Portal.

I am looking for court dispositions and/or court orders. Where do I find them?

Contact the issuing court directly. South Sound 911 does not provide court disposition information.

I only received part of my public records request. Where is the rest of it?

South Sound 911 public records requests may be processed by two different offices, depending on the item(s) requested. Some items may be available for release sooner than others and may, therefore, be made available separately.

The record I need is not on the list. Where do I get officers’ notes, or anything else not shown on the form?

South Sound 911 only processes public records requests on behalf of certain law enforcement agencies for Incident (police) Reports, CAD logs, and/or 911 and dispatch audio. Investigative information such as officer notes, are held and released by the individual agency. Please contact the relevant agency for access to such information.

For records pertaining to the agency of South Sound 911, please mail your request to South Sound 911; ATTN: Records Custodian; 955 Tacoma Ave. S., Suite 202; Tacoma, WA 98402.

Where can I get help using the Records Portal?

After you have created an account, please contact Kristy June by email at kristy.june@southsound911.org or by phone at 253-798-2773.

Where do I get fire records and reports?

For fire-related records and reports, please contact the individual fire department. South Sound 911 only provides records services for certain law enforcement agencies in Pierce County.

Which agencies’ reports may I get from South Sound 911?

South Sound 911 only processes public records requests on behalf of certain law enforcement agencies in Pierce County. See the List of Agencies and Records for more information. List of Agencies and Records