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911 General Information

What is an Emergency?

An emergency is any occurrence that requires the IMMEDIATE dispatch of Police, Fire and Medical Services.

When calling 911, remember to:

  • Remain calm
  • Speak clearly
  • Listen to ALL instructions
  • Answer ALL questions

The Emergency Communications Officer speaking with you may have many questions to ask depending on the nature of the problem. If you are reporting a crime, pay particular attention to the suspect's physical appearance: height, weight, hair color, clothing, any physical characteristics such as facial hair, glasses and accent. If a vehicle is involved, give a clear description of the color, make, body style and license plate number. Do not attempt to apprehend or detain suspects.

For fire emergencies, give the location, including any type of visible flames, smoke or odor. Information such as cross streets, business name or if anyone is inside the structure is also helpful.

For medical emergencies, give the name and exact location of the patient. Describe any medical problem. Be prepared to answer questions the Emergency Communications Officer may use to classify the calls.

Do's and Don'ts for 911


  • Use 911 for the dispatch of Police, Fire and EMS
  • Teach your children how to use 911 wisely in case of an emergency
  • Use payphones in an emergency to call 911 (call is free)


  • Don't call 911 when the power goes off or the weather is threatening. Call your utility company, and monitor television and radio for weather information
  • Don't call 911 to see how much a traffic ticket is or to check to see if someone is in jail
  • Don't call 911 for directions
  • Don't call 911 if your cat is stuck in a tree, call Animal Services instead at (770) 499-4136


The State of Georgia began collecting a fee from each wireless telephone to help pay for the development and maintenance of enhanced wireless service. This was mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Portions of these funds will also be distributed to local emergency communications centers, to upgrade telephone equipment and mapping equipment to pinpoint location of wireless calls.

Although they are a valuable tool, cell phones have their limitations. Here are some facts:

  • More than 30,000 wireless phones are sold everyday
  • More than 115,000 wireless 911 calls are made everyday
  • Wireless telephones do not provide 911 with an address
  • Wireless telephones may not connect you to the correct 911 center

Helpful Hints when calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone:

  • Providing an accurate address is critically important
  • Give an exact street number and street name if possible or closest intersection
  • Provide a business name or landmark if address is unknown
  • Do not hang-up until your call is answered
  • Know Your Cell Phone Number!

Text to 911 for Wireless Customers

Wireless customers in Cobb County can now send a short message service text message to 911 for emergency help when unable to make a 911 voice call. This service will be available to the majority of wireless customers.

All major carriers have completed integration with the Cobb County E911 system. Text to 911 was not developed as a replacement or option to calling 911 in an emergency situation, but rather as an enhancement to reaching 911 services in three specific situations:

  1. The caller is hearing/voice impaired,
  2. Medical emergency renders the person incapable of speech,
  3. When speaking out loud would put the caller in danger, such as a home invasion, an abduction, a domestic violence incident or an active shooter scenario

Cobb County will receive text to 911 calls from both unincorporated Cobb County and from the cities within Cobb. Information will be relayed to the appropriate city if necessary. Smyrna 911 has deployed its own text to 911. The county will work with Smyrna to provide seamless police, fire and medical services.

Important information for wireless customers in Cobb County:

  • Customers should use the texting option only when calling 911 is not an option.
  • Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help.  Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in text to 911 situations because of the time involved.
  • Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative.
  • Cobb County Public Safety agencies will receive only the location of the cell phone tower closest to the call’s origin, not the caller’s actual location.
  • Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
  • Customers must be in range of cell towers in Cobb County.  If customers are outside or near the edge of the county, the message may not reach a Cobb County Public Safety agency.
  • Texts to 911 from areas where the service is not available will receive a “bounce back” message telling them to make a voice call.
  • Texts sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
  • When texting 911 do not include others in the text.

Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.  Customers should consult their OTT (over the top) messaging providers to determine if and how text to 911 is provided by the OTT application.

The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. For non-emergency situations, customers should contact their local public safety agency via a 10 digit non-emergency number.

SMS 911 should only be used to communicate between emergency help and the texter with no pictures, video, other attachments or other recipients appended to the message.

See our video about Text to 911

Request a Copy of a 911 Recording

To request a copy of a 911 record or audio tape:

A request has to be in writing. Please include the date, time, address of incident, and the case number if known.

Request can be emailed to [email protected] 

It will take 2-3 days to process the request and you will be notified when it is ready. Charges incur at a rate of 0.10 per page and $5.00 per CD. Download /research charges are $5.50 every 15 minutes with the first 15-minute increment at no charge.


All Complaints Received in 2020

The following is the number breakdown of complaints for 2020:

Unfounded                                                    23%
Sustained 20 51%
Exonerated 8 21%
Not-Sustained 2 5%
Policy or Procedure Failure 0 0%


Sustained Complaints in Comparison to Total calls for service

Calls/Dispatches Received to date for 2020:

Calls                  663,522
Police Dispatches          419,134
Sheriff Dispatches          77,846
Fire Dispatches 85,882
Total 1,246,384

Percentages of Sustained Complaints:  0.003%

All Complaints Received in 2019

The following is the number breakdown of complaints received for 2019:

Unfounded 14 26%
Sustained 27 51%
Exonerated 11 33%
Not-Sustained 0 0%
Policy or Procedure Failure 1 3%


Sustained Complaints in Comparison to Total calls for service

Calls/Dispatches Received to date for 2019

Calls 663,522
Police Dispatches 419,134
Sheriff Dispatches 77,846
Fire Dispatches 85,882
Total 1,246,384


Percentage of Sustained Complaints: 0.002%


All Complaints Received in 2018

Unfounded: 12 18%
Sustained: 42 63%
Exonerated: 9 13%
Not-Sustained: 4 6%
Policy or Procedure Failure: 0 0%

Sustained Complaints in Comparison to Total Calls for Service

Calls/Dispatches Received to date for 2018

Calls: 593,931
Police Dispatches: 456,533
Sheriff Dispatches: 76,261
Fire Dispatches: 86,390
TOTAL: 1,213,115
Percentage of Sustained Complaints: 0.03%