Organizational analysis, based on a version of symbolic interactionism, is used here to advance a dramaturgical perspective on the relationships between organization, information and technology. Organizations are defined as meaning-production systems stabilized by relatively permanent interactions that are temporally and spatially-based. Ethnographic data, gathered by fieldwork in two police ... [Show full abstract] communication centers in the United States and in England, are presented. Each organization receives messages centrally and processes them through three segments (operators, dispatchers and officers). In semiotic terms, the police can be seen to be a means for producing drama, or the selective presentation of signs which either heighten or reduce the salience of other signs in a message. The primary conditions which increase the likelihood of drama being attached to policing are tentatively advanced. The police reduce the salience of emotive or expressive aspects of communication by encoding (recoding) citizens' messages from an aesthetic mode to a logical classificatory code. The greater the information supplied by a caller, the more ambiguity in the call-classification process, and the more interpretation is required. Interpretations rendered are based in part upon segment specific understandings of the meanings of the calls, and in part on more general or shared meanings based upon the occupational culture. The result of these interpretations is that messages become more poetic in character as they move across segments within the system. The police also reproduce their own metaphoric version or map of society in and by their encoding, decoding and recoding actions. By so doing, they maintain the dramatic importance of the police and their actions, and the centrality of myths that reify the notion that the police can and do control all that needs controlling in a society.