Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains some of the most frequently asked questions that our department receives from the public. If your question has not been answered here, feel free to contact us.

Crime Info & Prevention
9-1-1 Communications


 Administration (Back to top)


How many officers do you have?
We are authorized for 30 Sworn Officers, 4 Reserves and 18 professional civilian staff.

How many police vehicles do you have?
We have 9 marked cars and 2 motorcycles.

What is the annual Police Operating Budget?
The annual operating budget for police is approximately $14.5 million, however $5 million of the annual police operating budget is earmarked for the Santa Clara County Fire and Medical contract.

What hours/shifts do officers work?
Patrol officers work 12-hour shifts, on a rotating basis. Officers in non-patrol functions work 10-hour shifts.

Crime Info & Prevention (Back to top)


Whom do I call about crime prevention and neighborhood watch programs?
Call the crime prevention office at (650) 947-2770.

Does Los Altos have a neighborhood watch program?
Yes, it is a cooperative program between residents and the police department. Individual neighborhoods are encouraged to unite and form programs, with the assistance of the police department. For more information about the Neighborhood Watch Program, call (650) 947-2776.

How can I secure my home or business?
Call the crime prevention office for information at (650) 947-2770. We have information we can mail to you and appointments can be made to meet with the crime prevention officer.

Are security alarms recommended?
There are several types of alarm systems available. Contact several companies for estimates if you are considering installing a system. You should know whether or not the alarm is audible, whether or not a signal goes to a central monitoring system, and when police are contacted. There is an annual permit required from the police department to have an alarm system.

How do I check for registered sex offenders in my neighborhood (Megan's Law)?
Visit the California Attorney General's website for Megan's Law information.

Can a police officer come out and talk to our employees, children, classroom, etc. on safety?
Yes, requests should be made at least two weeks in advance. Contact the School Resource Officer at (650) 947-2803 or email

9-1-1 Communications (Back to top)


What happens when I call 9-1-1 from a cellular telephone?
Depending on which cell tower picks up your cell phone signal, your call could be routed to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or a local police agency such as the Los Altos Police Department. If the call is answered by CHP and the incident being reported is occurring within a local police agency’s jurisdiction, the CHP Dispatcher will connect you with the appropriate agency. To be directly connected with the Los Altos Police Department when using a cell phone, be sure to dial (650) 947-2779.

What number do I call to report a non-emergency situation?
Non-emergency calls should be made to (650) 947-2770.

When should I call 9-1-1?
Dial 9-1-1 to report any incident requiring an emergency response by police, fire, or medical personnel. Do not call 9-1-1 for non-emergency requests. Non emergency callers should dial (650) 947-2770.

When I call 9-1-1, what information should I give?
The communications officer will need to ask you several questions. It is important that you listen to the officer and follow his/her instructions. You must stay on the line until the officer tells you that it is okay to hang up.

What if I need to contact the Los Altos Police Department and I either do not speak English, or I am hearing or speech impaired?
The Los Altos Police Department communications center is equipped with TDD devices for communicating with the hearing and/or speech impaired via both 9-1-1 and non-emergency numbers. Language translation services are also available, via AT&T translation services.

General (Back to top)


I need my child's car seat installed, do you provide that service?
No, we do not install or inspect child car seats. Check out the California Highway Patrol's Child Passenger Safety Program.

Juvenile (Back to top)


Is a juvenile's arrest confidential?
Arrests of juveniles are kept confidential from the public and media.

Will a Juvenile's arrest record affect him/her after the age of 18?
Juvenile arrest records, excluding serious felony records, can be sealed after the age of 17.

Is it illegal for a juvenile to smoke cigarettes?
It is illegal for a minor, under the age of 18, to possess, purchase, or smoke cigarettes, as well as to possess smoking products (pipes, tobacco, papers, etc.).

What arrests affect a juvenile's future driving privileges?
All alcohol and drug related charges would affect a juvenile's future driving privileges.

What is the curfew in Los Altos?
There is a curfew between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., 7 days a week, for juveniles. This does not prohibit juveniles from traveling in vehicles to a specific destination, but does prohibit loitering and being out without a specific purpose. Minors in public can expect to be contacted by the police.

What is the law concerning juvenile parties?
No person shall suffer, permit, allow or host a social gathering at his or her place of residence where ten (10) or more persons under the age of twenty-one (21) are present and alcoholic beverages are in the possession of, or are being consumed by, any person under the age of twenty-one (21) years. (LAMC § 7.04.030)

Nuisances (Back to top)


Whom do I call for an abandoned vehicle?
Police Communications can be contacted at (650) 947-2770.

Whom do I call for barking dogs and other loud noises in my neighborhood?
Contact Police Communications at (650) 947-2770, 24-hours a day.

Parking (Back to top)


Where do I go to pay or contest a parking citation?
The Police Department Records Division at 1 North San Antonio Rd., is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. You may go there to pay a parking citation, or to file paperwork to contest a citation. For more information regarding contesting a parking citation, click here.

What are the hours of parking enforcement in downtown Los Altos?
Parking is enforced between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for time-regulated spaces. Handicapped parking is enforced 24-hours a day.

There is a car in my neighborhood that doesn't belong to anybody, what can I do?
In Los Altos a vehicle is allowed to park in the same spot for up to 72 hours. Call the non-emergency business line (650) 947-2770 to report the parked vehicle. Any regularly employed and salaried officer of the police department may remove, or cause to be removed, any vehicle which has been parked or left standing upon a street, highway, or public parking lot for 72 or more consecutive hours. (LAMC § 8.20.090)

Property (Back to top)


What hours are available for the release of property?
Property can be released, by appointment only, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

How long is property held for safekeeping?
Property held for safekeeping will be retained for 60 days.

If I find money or other valuable property and turn it into the police, can I later claim it if the true owner has not collected it?
Yes, it is the finder's responsibility to contact the Property & Evidence Unit after 90 days to file a claim for the property. Exceptions include weapons and contraband.

Does the City hold auctions for unclaimed property?
No, the City contracts with auction houses for that purpose.

Records (Back to top)


Can I get my citation signed off?
Citation sign-off hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Los Altos Police personnel are only authorized to sign off citations for Los Altos residents or citations issued by a Los Altos Police Officer. If you are neither a resident or you were cited by another agency, contact the law enforcement agency where you reside or the agency that originally issued you your citation. There is no fee for this service.

How do I get a copy of a police report?
You must be an involved party to request a copy of a police report. You can contact Records personnel at the Los Altos Police Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday to request a copy. You may also submit an online request. There is no fee for a copy. 

How do I get a copy of an accident report?
You can contact Records personnel at the Los Altos Police Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday to request a copy of an accident report. You must be an involved party, or an authorized representative of an involved party to receive a copy. There is no fee for a copy.

How do I get a copy of my criminal record? 
A personal criminal history report can be ordered for current or former California residents by requesting a Record Review Packet from the State of California, Department of Justice call (916) 227-3849 or (916) 322-2209. There is a fee. For criminal record FAQ information check the Department of Justice website

How do I get a DMV SR-1 form for reporting an accident to the DMV for damages over $750?
You may now access DMV SR-1 form the DMV website.

My car was towed. How do I get it back?
There are different circumstances for which a car may be towed. You will be required to pay a fee to the City of Los Altos, as well as to the tow company involved. Under certain conditions you may not be eligible to obtain a release for the vehicle for 30 days. Contact the Police Department, 24-hours a day, at (650) 947-2770 to obtain specific information. Please be prepared to provide a case number if possible.

I have a warrant for my arrest. How do I take care of it?
You can either come to the Police Department at 1 North San Antonio Road or call (650) 947-2770 to discuss options available to you. Since your identity cannot be verified over the phone, specific information regarding your warrant cannot be discussed.

Traffic (Back to top)


How can I get a radar trailer in my neighborhood?
You can call (650) 947-2770 and leave a message for the traffic unit or you can submit an Online Traffic Complaint Form to make a request for a radar trailer.

Whom do I call with complaints about traffic problems?
Complaints should be directed to the traffic unit by calling (650) 947-2770 or you can submit an Online Traffic Complaint Form with the specifics of your traffic problem.

Does the new 15 mph school speed limit apply 24 hours, 7 days a week, or only when school is in session?
The 15 mph school speed zone is in effect during normal school hours when children are traveling to and from school and also during the afternoon lunch break.

Is there a minimum number of children who must be present for the 15 mph speed limit to be in effect?
No; there is no minimum number of children who must be present.

If I'm driving past a school [during or after school hours] and I see no children in front of me, can I speed up to 25 mph even before I reach the "End School Zone" sign?
No. A child does not have to be visible for the 15 mph speed limit to be enforced; it is enforced during normal school hours when children are traveling to and from school and also during the afternoon lunch break. The intention of the reduced speed is to get vehicles to slow down to a safer speed during the time when children are going to and from school and when they’re on lunch break.

If I see someone walking at midnight, am I expected to determine whether it's a child or an adult?
No. The 15 mph speed limit would not apply at midnight, thus determining the age of the pedestrian at that time would not be necessary.

Why not just change the speed limit instead of applying this conditional overlay speed limit?
The goal of the reduced speed limit is for the safety of children traveling to and from school. A permanent 15 mph speed limit would not be supported by an engineering and traffic survey, which is required per California Vehicle Code, for setting speed limits in the City.