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The City of Portland, Oregon

Community & Civic Life

Promote the common good

Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204

Calling the Police on Suspicious Activity

Neighbors sometimes hesitate to report suspicious activity to the police when they are unsure that it warrants a call or that they will receive immediate response, among other concerns. Some examples include residents observing people:

  • Looking into the front windows of homes.

  • Knocking on a neighbor’s door then walking to the side yard when no one answers.

  • Walking on the street late at night, looking into vehicles.

  • Loitering near a business when it is closed.

  • Parking on the street, looking at houses and hanging out for an extended time.

  • Yelling at each other and the fighting appears to be escalating to physical violence.

  • Slumping over in their vehicle and there is concern for their welfare.

When you know your neighbors and the routines of your neighborhood, suspicious activity will be more readily apparent.  If what you observe makes you concerned about safety, contact the police. Please focus on the activity in assessing whether something is suspicious as opposed to profiling or basing it on appearances. For some tips on describing suspicious activity, please see our blog for more information.

Where to call:  

  • Call 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property or a crime in progress.

  • Contact the police non-emergency number at 503-823-3333 when what you observe is not an immediate threat. When in doubt, you can start with 9-1-1. If the dispatcher deems it not to be an emergency, you will be instructed to hang up and call the non-emergency number to free up 9-1-1 phone lines. The same dispatchers answer calls to both numbers. During your call to the non-emergency line, a dispatcher may need to place your call on hold for in-progress emergency calls.

  • Call 9-1-1 and alert the dispatcher if a non-emergent problem previously called in has escalated to an emergency.

  • Text 9-1-1 only if there is a true emergency and you are unable to call. Please call if you can, text if you can’t. Visit for more info.

  • If you witnessed suspicious activity, but did not call at the time of occurrence, in some cases you can report the incident to the police online at within the last day. Reports are not immediately reviewed, but may shed light on criminal activity and crime trends. When it is happening now, call the police.

Currently with staffing shortages at the 9-1-1/Non-emergency Call Center and the Police Bureau, residents are experiencing longer call hold and response times. Currently, the average 9-1-1 response time for the police is six minutes and will be longer for non-emergent activity.  It can be frustrating to wait, but please continue to call. When you report crime, the police know where to direct available resources.

Please report the incident to the police before you post about the activity on social media.  

Where it is possible and safe to do so, neighbors will sometimes go outside and work out in their front yards when they see someone hanging out in the area. When you greet people who walk on your street and demonstrate that you are paying attention, it can deter criminal activity. You will need to gauge the safety of the situation.

If have questions or concerns about your experience calling for help, here are ways that you can follow up:

For more information on When to Call 9-1-1/Non-Emergency, please visit: .