police were called in / called out

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Police were called out this morning after the woman threatened another person with a hammer before fleeing to a Goldsmith Crescent address.
According to the article, the standoff took place at the house. Do you think "police were called in" also works perfectly? Would you consider it just a matter of perspective? "Called out" seems more likely to be used from the prospective of an outsider or officers being dispatched out on the report.
"Called in" is viewed by victims or other people who are at the scene.
 
  • George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    My personal interpretation is that "called out" means that the police were asked to attend (go to) the incident. "Called in" might just mean that the police were asked to become involved in the case, but not necessarily to attend .
    When one dials the emergency service the police are called out to attend an incident.
    When one calls the police in it is generally to deal with some ongoing problem.

    The police were called out last evening to attend a crash between a car and a lorry in the square. Specific and needing swift action.
    The police were called in by the the mayor to investigate the on going complaint about the fly tipping of waste in the car park. A general problem and ongoing.

    Approximately...

    GF..
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    When one dials the emergency service the police are called out to attend an incident.
    When one calls the police in it is generally to deal with some ongoing problem.

    The police were called out last evening to attend a crash between a car and a lorry in the square. Specific and needing swift action.
    The police were called in by the the mayor to investigate the on going complaint about the fly tipping of waste in the car park. A general problem and ongoing.

    Approximately...

    GF..
    Well explained :)
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks for your helpful explanations, The Prof and George French. It's always nice to learn subtle differences between words. By the way, what do you think about another similar word "summon"? It seems more in line with "asked to become involved in the case, but not necessarily to attend"
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I think we have some AE/BE differences here. In my opinion, we'd simply say that the police were called (neither "in" nor "out"). And they wouldn't "attend the incident"; they'd arrive on the scene.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thanks for your helpful explanations, The Prof and George French. It's always nice to learn subtle differences between words. By the way, what do you think about another similar word "summon"? It seems more in line with "asked to become involved in the case, but not necessarily to attend"
    Please start a new thread for "summon."
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    If someone calls the police to complaint that her neighbor is running around naked in his own backyard, making her scared children cry all day, would you use "the police were called in by the neighbor to report seeing a naked man running around in his own backyard? (rather than called out)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Usually, in the UK, police are called in by organisations, public authorities, or politicians; police are called out by members of the public.
     
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