Ducky’s Dispatcher Diaries: Public Service Announcement
There are people who go their whole lives without ever having to dial 911, and they are very lucky. For the rest of you, here’s a list to help me help you not: get burglarized/die/get your <insert important item here> stolen.
1. Know where you are.
You may think this is common sense, and you’d be wrong. A lot of people that I encounter have no clue of where they currently are or where the alleged crime was committed. See the following true conversation I had with a caller:
MRD: What’s your address?
Caller: I live off 6th.
MRD: 6th? 6th what?
Caller: Just 6th!
Me: Sir, what city do you live in?
MRD: No, sir, that’s the county. What city do you live in?
At this point I inform the caller that natural selection has chosen to cull him from the herd, that he should hang up immediately and not to worry, the circling buzzards will alert us in three to five days of his precise location. I don’t want that to happen to you, so please always have a rough idea of where you are.
2. Know the law.
I don’t mean that you need to walk around with a statute book in your back pocket, but you should have a general idea of the laws of your area, particularly for things that actually apply to you. Like vehicle repossession or towing, for instance. It is not a crime for your vehicle to be repossessed. I know, it sucks and leaves you stranded, but still – no crime. Even if you think there is a discrepancy on the part of your finance company, the repo company has every right to take the vehicle in good faith of the order of repossession.
Similarly, if the car you’re driving is towed and the car does not in fact belong to you, please don’t call me screaming that the tow company refuses to a) release the vehicle to you or b) let you get any items out of the vehicle. The tow company is responsible for that vehicle when it is in their possession; therefore, if you are not the owner, they become liable if they let you take the car because you claim to be the owner’s brother/sister/mother/demonic overlord/life partner/sex toy, or any combination thereof.
3. We are not CSI.
No, my crime scene tech can’t get fingerprints from a rock. Or a sock. It’s not that we don’t want to, we really do, but some things are just not possible. Yes, my tech may have had a chance of processing your stolen car with positive results, but that was before you found it and drove it home, fouling any evidence with your sweat and fingerprints and such. Nor is it possible for us to process fingerprints/blood/fibers in under a day like on T.V. Our crime lab is run by the county, and there’s a backlog of up to a year on evidence needed to be processed for non-violent crimes.
4. Understand priorities
I understand that your next door neighbor’s yippy dog has been barking all day long and that it makes you want to do supremely evil things. I feel your pain. Unfortunately, an officer has not been dispatched. Why? Because they’re all currently tied up on calls where life and limb are at risk, such as a multi-car accident on the highway or a suicidal man with a gun or an armed robbery or a domestic dispute or a myriad of calls that take priority. So please, don’t yell at me that you have been waiting for half an hour and blame me for the general incompetence of police everywhere. It won’t get you an officer any faster, but it will result in me calling the officer to warn them of the utter douchecockery they will encounter when they knock on your door.
5. Helpful Tips.
Here are a few things that I’ve picked up along the way to make your life a little easier:
- Don’t leave your valuables in your car! I keep saying this, and yet it keeps happening. There are just under 600 cases of burgled vehicles in my city this year alone. Your cellphone, your purse, your iPod, that limited edition bedazzled Rock My Cock Cock Ring™, your stupid GPS systems, ALL of them are prime for the taking by a burglar. And ladies, don’t even think about hiding your purse under your seat. If someone watches you leave a vehicle without it, they will assume it’s inside and will break your window to get to it.
- Call immediately when something happens. Don’t wait. We’d rather you felt silly for calling in a suspicious incident that turned out to be nothing, than to wait and a preventable crime occurs.
- If your car is stolen, keep paying the insurance on it. Otherwise, when it’s recovered, your insurance company won’t reimburse you for jack.
I fully support a citizen’s right to make a complaint. One complaint I always get is about the way our guys and girls in blue drive. If you tell me that the driving of unit such and such was displeasing to you, I will look up who the car belongs to. If it turns out that officer is off duty, I will gladly forward you to the supervisor. If it turns out that officer is on duty and was responding to a call in the area (lights and sirens or no lights and sirens), I will tell you as such, and I will expect the conversation to be over. I do not expect conversations like the following:
MRD: “Okay ma’am, I looked up who the officer is that drives that unit, and he was in your community on a call for service. He parked there as that was the closest and fastest way for him to respond to his call. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this caused you.”
Caller:”That is unacceptable! What if I had an emergency, huh? Had to go to the hospital? I wouldn’t be able to leave!”
MRD: “…He’s an emergency responder ma’am, I’m sure he would gladly move for you if you expressed a matter of urgency.”
Caller: “I still find it wrong! Your cop shoulda parked at the next building!” (Said building is quite a ways away).
MRD: “I’m sorry ma’am, he chose a spot that was closest for him to deal with his call in a speedy and safe manner. I am sorry you disagree with him doing his job that you as a taxpayer pay him to do, and I will gladly forward you to the Sergeant so that you can explain your feelings on the matter.” *
So there you have it, a PSA/bitchfest from yours truly to help you navigate the tricky police-citizen relationship, and get on my our good side. If all else fails, baked goods should do the job (not necessarily doughnuts, though. I prefer carrot cake myself. But whatevs.).
*Yeah, I gave her to Chillbear.