Police-involved shootings, excessive force, and police brutality are part of our modern landscape. They have resulted in protests and calls for police reform. Police brutality can have serious consequences for individuals and our nation.

As of June 30, 2020, police officers have killed 598 people. Some of these officer-involved shootings may have been the result of someone calling the police for help or because they thought they saw something.

Many people are searching for alternatives to calling the police for help in some situations. In some cases, the alternatives to police involvement can avoid a matter from escalating into excessive force and police brutality. In extreme cases, it could save a life.

It is essential to maintain personal and community safety. However, there can be ways of dealing with emergencies and specific situations that do not involve calling the police. Knowing who to call instead of police is just as important as knowing when you need to call the police.

1.  Focus on Your Business

It can be instinctive to reach in some situations even though it is none of our business to become involved. We are told, “If you see something, say something.” While this command is important in an actual emergency or dangerous situation, it is often overused.

In many instances, our involvement is unnecessary in a situation. In some cases, our involvement can make the matter more dangerous for the people involved in the situation. Calling the police could result in a deadly confrontation. 

2.  Consider the Severity of the Situation 

Before calling the police, ask yourself if the severity of the situation requires police intervention. Having police involved in some situations could escalate the matter. If you do call the police, you could create a serious and harmful situation for yourself and others. 

Ask yourself if the potential consequences of calling the police are worth it, given the severity of the situation. 

For example, minor car accidents may not always require assistance from the police. Alternatives to calling the police may involve exchanging information with the other driver when no one is injured in the accident. Calling the police for a minor car accident could create a dangerous situation if the police arrive and decide to search the vehicles or take other unnecessary actions that escalate the situation. 

3.  Handle the Situation Yourself

Alternatives to calling police include handling the situation yourself. Some situations do not rise to the level of police involvement. For example, talking to a neighbor about turning down loud music instead of picking up the phone to report your neighbor to the police can be an effective alternative to police intervention.

Likewise, asking someone who is walking their dog in your neighborhood without a leash to follow local leash laws can be effective in resolving conflict without calling the police. Also, knowing who to call instead of the police can be useful. Instead of calling 911 for an animal without a leash, call animal control.

Whenever you work to resolve conflict as alternatives to calling the police, remember always to make sure that you can intervene safely before doing so. Never put your personal safety at risk.

4.  Ask for Help from Someone Else

You may be able to get help from other sources as alternatives to police intervention. Knowing who to call instead of police can keep situations from becoming more dangerous and heated. For instance, if you have friends or family members trained in de-escalation techniques or conflict resolution, they may be able to help in some situations as alternatives to calling the police. 

In some cases, a passerby might be able to help you with a situation instead of immediately calling the police. However, whether you ask a passerby or a friend for help, you must always think about your safety and the safety of others. Do not put yourself or others at risk of harm or violence to avoid calling the police when the situation is dangerous. 

5.  Get in Touch With a Mediator or Lawyer

Some situations involve legal conflicts that are settled in civil court instead of in criminal court. If the matter involves a conflict that does not require an immediate response, getting the help of a lawyer or mediator may be better alternatives to police involvement. 

For example, workplace issues and disputes related to legal issues are resolved through mediation and negotiation. A lawyer is usually the best person to talk to when you have a legal dispute that does not pose an immediate risk to your safety or the safety of others.

Likewise, individuals trained in conflict resolution can help you resolve interpersonal conflicts that might impact your household or your community. Some cities have resources available to help neighbors and communities resolve conflicts. Again, knowing who to call instead of police can help avoid making matters worse for everyone involved. 

6.  Reach Out to a Crisis Intervention Specialist

In extreme and dangerous situations, you may want to reach out to a crisis intervention specialist instead of calling the police. 

For example, if a family member experiences a mental health issue, calling the mobile crisis team may be better than calling the police. Police officers are not mental health professionals, and they can make matters worse. 

Creating a list of agencies, organizations, and other resources that can offer assistance in various situations can be helpful. Of course, knowing when to call for police assistance is just as important as knowing who to call instead of police. If someone is about to take his or her own life or another person is in immediate risk of death or injury, calling the police may be necessary.