Q&A: Rely on scanner for immediate police information

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From the Carroll County Comet (Delphi):

Q: Emergency personnel get “toned out” when there is a call for their services. Yesterday, the local fire department and the ambulance service were called to a house fire. I contacted the 911 dispatcher and asked what they were called out for, and the dispatcher said he had nothing for me.

I know law enforcement is required to give me the location or the reason for an emergency response but want HSPA’s opinion before I speak with the 911 coordinator to discuss how we can work together about this. What can I do?

A: What you want is immediate information when emergency personnel or police are dispatched. I’d have to say a scanner is your best bet.

The records that must be made available are created after the event, so if the dispatchers won’t answer your questions – and there’s nothing to require them to do so – you need to hear what’s going out over the radio.

Otherwise, you’ll have to catch up on the story when the records are available for inspection and copying.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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