I can think of a few other ways to describe these calls, but most involve four-letter words that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap as a child. Disbeliever calls are those where you just cannot believe the person is calling 9-1-1 with their particular type of problem. An example, (again found on YouTube so now this caller’s amazingly bad choices and subsequent arrest are now common knowledge) is the Connecticut man who called 9-1-1 for “a legal question” on “how much trouble you could get into for one plant…only a seedling.” You can hear the disbelief in the operator’s voice as she handles this call. I think it’s funny to note that the news report states after his arrest, he left the courthouse, turned around and stuck both his middle fingers up at the dispatchers. Guess he was in disbelief too. Personally, I had a similar call where a gentleman wanted us to come out because he had paid for some drugs and didn’t receive them. After a few clarifying questions from me and gentle reminders of who he was calling he decided he would just cut his losses and go home.
Some citizens know how to play the system. They know the keywords to get an officer out fast in any situation and they often don’t hide what they are doing. But, due to policies and protocols, there is nothing an operator can do in these situations except for play the role of the pawn and send out units usually Code 3. I guarantee there is a scowl on your face the entire time you’re punching those buttons. For me, the call that fell into this category most solidly was a loud music complaint. Her neighbor was having a party, lots of loud talking, drinking and carrying on. She had called numerous times and I’m sure it was annoying, but it was a busy night and officers were tied up on other calls (if I remember correctly there had been a sexual assault and a shooting nearby). When I explained that the officers were handling other emergencies and would come out as soon as they were available, there was a pause and then in what I would describe as a completely sarcastic, dead-pan voice she stated, “Well they have a gun. Yup, they just fired a shot.” I scowled the whole time as I followed procedure and took officers off other calls and sent them lights and siren to her house knowing what they would find - lots of loud talking, drinking and carrying on. Disposition--No gun. No shots fired. Included in this category are those calls that include statements such as, “Lady, Just send me an officer…”
As public safety telecommunications operators, we handle a lot of calls. In my department, we averaged 250 emergency and non-emergency calls per shift. That’s a lot of calls in a career. Many are true emergencies, but some are butt calls, eye-rollers, disbelievers and scowlers. Thanks to YouTube and the public’s fascination with those who call in for emergency services we can experience not only our own calls but those from around the world as well.
- The Writing Hand
- Lock It Before You Pocket
- Also Sprach Zarathrustra
- Family Calls 911 Over Missing Orange Juice at McDonalds
- Man Calls 911 With Pot Question, Is Arrested
About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.