Wednesday, March 17, 2010

911 CALLS...

I know I haven't discussed it before, but I'm a 911 police dispatcher. And I gotta say, it's a very interesting  rewarding job. Still, like every job out there, it has it's moments of pure....stupidity. Well, the people do at least. And just because it's an "emergency" doesn't mean people don't exercize their free will using that stupidity to the nth degree.

This career has given me a clearer definition of what an actual emergency is. Because, sure, we all have our personal emergencies-those things that we consider to be uber important and have to deal with immediately. But the world has a basic standard of what an emergency is and, really, we all know what that is. Some just fail to acknowledge it.( i.e. your baby choking is an emergency- locking your keys in your car is not- please do not call the police department about this and expect immediate results because you feel it's an emergency because you'll be late for a meeting at work).

Let me preface this with saying I have never in my life utilized 9-1-1 because I've always taken it as it should be-a phone number for emergencies to contact the police department, the fire department or ambulances. So, it always amazes me the amount of stupid calls I receive on a daily basis from people who either don't understand the definition of emergency or just choose to ignore it.

For instance, on any given day, I'll get calls (on 911) requesting the non-emergency number for another police agency in our area. (ever heard of information?) Or, I'll get a call asking about employment at the department. Or a caller who clearly doesn't have an emergency -so he/she shouldn't be dialing 911-but is inquiring about a case (ie. requesting a copy of a report or some such nonsense).  Not to mention those people who call 9-1-1 accidentally (I do understand it happens sometimes) and when I answer, "9-1-1 what is your emergency?" the responder is argumentative ("I did not call 9-1-1!"). After I ask if there's an emergency or police/fire/ambulance are needed they continue to argue that they couldn't have possibly called 911.(uh, yeah, ya did, cuz you got me!)

There are also calls that may not be related to 911 but are stupid nonetheless.
We've received calls from panicked citizens who believe their car was stolen only to find out it was repossessed or, better yet, they just forgot they parked it in another lot. This happens a lot, especially in parking garages.
A typical call:

Me: **** Police Department. This line is recording.

Caller: Yes, my car's been stolen.

Me: What is the address/location of your vehicle?

Caller: I'm in XYZ parking garage and I can't find it. I've been searching for the past 10 minutes-I think someone stole my car!!!! ::annoyed or panic ridden voice:::

Me: And what level was it on?

Caller: 4th level. It's not here...rant rave,rant rave, etc. etc.

Me: And you're sure that you've checked every level of XYZ garage?

Caller: YES!!!! Send the police immediately please! ::: typically in an incredulous you-idiot voice:::

After getting some more information, dispatching officers who arrive on the scene, they find the car located one level up/down/on the other side of the same level. Or better yet, before our officers even arrive on scene, the complainant has called back because they've decided to thoroughly check the levels and find their car in that process.

Because they don't take grand theft auto lightly it is a priority for officers. So, it ties up our officers, which can be annoying, especially when the whole thing could be avoided if the complainant only paid attention before jumping the gun. Its frustrating to say the least which is why I ask, "you checked every level?" because typically, no, they haven't. And it makes them realize-oh perhaps I should check every level. What a novel idea! Most of the time they say yes they have-even when they obviously haven't because our officers usually find it on another level.

I know most people don't like police officers but think about it- cops aren't dealing with the brightest of citizens on a day to day basis and I can imagine that can get pretty frustrating--enough to make any officer seem like an ass sometimes  I know it makes me pretty bitchy dealing with stupid people (and I only have to answer the phone for them-not deal with them in person). Not that there aren't those who are just asses because they just are.

The worst is a suspicious person call. This type of "crime" is just waiting for the closet (or open) racist to come out. Daily we get calls about suspicious people/activities. It goes something like this:

Caller: yeah, this guy is walking down the road and he just looks out of place.

Me: okay, what it it he's doing that is suspicious?

Caller: He's just walking really slowly and he keeps looking back at me.
(maybe because you're staring at him?)

Me: Okay. What is your location? Description of the person?
9 times out of 10--it's a black male. And the typical response when I ask a caller why they are suspicious is "they look out of place" or "they look like they don't belong" etc. It's not as if these guys are carrying ski masks and peering into vehicles in dark alleys.

Yeah, sometimes I just don't know what to do with the blatant stupidity out there. But it's the job. And I do love how interesting it can be.

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