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911 Dispatch Call Processing Protocols: Key Tools for Coordinating Effective Call Triage

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2023
6 pages

This publication by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center provides guidance for and examples of 911 dispatch call processing protocols.


This brief by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center presents examples from jurisdictions that have developed 911 dispatch call protocols and provides guidance on the steps public safety answering points (PSAP) staff can take to develop and implement their own call processing guide. When a 911 call for service is received, dispatch center staff need to make quick decisions about which agency—law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services (EMS)—will respond to the call. The dispatcher also has to decide which type of response is appropriate. This can be complex, as law enforcement agencies and their partners have implemented a range of alternative interventions to respond to behavioral health calls, such as crisis intervention teams, mobile crisis units, co-response teams, community responder programs, and more. A call triage protocol—commonly known as a processing guide, decision tree, or flowchart—is one essential tool for guiding the response to these calls. Processing guides include clearly written policies and procedures that outline the roles and responsibilities of all PSAP staff and offer specific guidelines for scenarios that officers and dispatch staff may encounter. Call processing guides are needed to fully maximize the effectiveness of police-mental health collaborations (PMHCs). 

Date Published: November 1, 2023