Monday, December 29, 2008

Dispatchers Becoming Officers

As I have been around in the dispatching world for more than a couple decades (for those of you who don't do math, that's more than 20 years), I have seen several Dispatchers demote themselves to officers for the better pay and less stressful work life. What I have found is that usually they are really great to work with because they understand the intricacies of our job better than an officer who sat for a couple hours during his orientation and/or training.

But there is always that one exception. And the exception is an officer that should never have even been hired on as a dispatcher. Talk about too much 'tude and has the mentality of Cliff from Cheers.

This person started their illustrious career with the City by attending the fire academy but couldn't get hired on by the fire department (have heard the rumors why but since I can't substantiate won't list them here). Then applied as a Dispatcher but from day one talked about all their knowledge about the fire department. At the time we dispatched fire and police so naturally the person knew more about how dispatching fire calls should go and everything that was happening and felt the need to share all that information. Constantly.

When this person got accepted into the police academy many of us started groaning. The person worked part time in dispatch so they could keep paying their bills while attending the academy. But was always cranky and full of lectures of how calls should be handled, by Dispatch and officers.

When the person actually got hired as an officer the groans in Dispatch got very loud. Several of then approximately 70 dispatchers said they would not be working the radio channel when that person was working patrol. And this morning was the example of why their former fellow dispatchers felt this way.

Was telling the radio dispatcher (me) what the complaint taker dispatcher should be asking the reporting party who said someone was trying to break into their house, wanting descriptions of the suspects and then got rude (dripping with a big 'tude) when told the reporting party was whispering because they were frightened and didn't want to look out the window or even leave their bedroom until they knew a police officer was on scene. "Then how does the RP know someone is trying to get in?" Excuse me? How I wish I could reach through the radio to hit the specific officer up against the side of the head.

So attention to you Dispatchers thinking of increasing your paycheck by swearing in as an officer. Remember your former co-workers do know what to ask and how and isn't trying to keep any information from you. Surely, you remember just how busy it gets and how difficult it is at times to get information from reporting parties. So drop the 'tude and let's get on with our business.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Domestic Violence

This is a personal hot button for me. My mother was a victim. I was a victim of child abuse.

Almost daily we get calls from women, and occasionally men (more and more) about valid complaints of domestic violence, ranging from pushing to assault with a weapon.

Very recently took a call from a grown son calling for Mom. Mom couldn't call us because Dad ripped the phone out of the wall, making it impossible for Mom to call for help. Mom uses a walker to get around due to physical damage done to her body from multiple beatings and abuse over the years by Dad.

I'm not going to go over the whole psychological issue of why women stay in such an abusive relationship. My mother did. This Mom continues to.

But what angers me is the lack of prosecution done to this "man" (and I hate to use this word for such an adlebrained/dimwitted member of the homosapian animal race) by our County District Attorney. And not just one DA either. According to premise history, this man has been arrested numerous times for domestic violence. Through at least three different DA terms.

In our state a victim (not all DV vics are women) does not have to "file a complaint" like they did during my mother's era. If an Officer sees physical evidence of assault, the suspect is arrested. The suspect can be prosecuted without the victim ever having to testify. When this law was created a lot of law enforcement and victim advocates danced happily in the streets.

But for some reason our County DA has a problem following through on prosecuting domestic violence suspects. A quick online search of the County Criminal Courts shows a very high percentage seem to be pled down. This "man" that created this angry blog entry has been arrested numerous times but seems to spend a little county jail time and goes home to repeat the cycle.

I wonder how many domestic violence convicted persons are actually in our prison system. Because this "man" should be one of those enjoying the rent free/first run movie viewing/better medical and dental coverage than I got/free gym equipment access residence provided by our state and my tax dollars. But for some reason our County DA's just let him go home again and again with a slap on his hand.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Criminal vs Civil

After enjoying a day with my family to celebrate a little holiday cheer, I return to work and deal with a very angry member of the community I work for, one of my first phone calls for the day. And spend a great amount of time trying to explain the difference between a criminal call for service (which we would handle) and a civil incident/case (in which we would not respond). And listened to her mouthing off and start "kitchen sinking" list of complaints about the agency I work for.

On television and in movies, you never see an Officer or Dispatcher refuse to answer a citizens request for police presence. An officer responds and settles the issue and writes up the report. Yeah, right.

Hello to all those script writers out there! Learn the facts and write accordingly! Take the opportunity to educate the general public who believe everything they see on television and in the movies as fact.

Law enforcement agencies, like the local police departments and sheriff departments, as a rule, respond to requests of the criminal nature. Granted, many sheriff departments have a civil division to help with service of warrants and restraining orders, but the rule of thumb is, if you have a complaint of the civil nature, don't call the police. They're crime fighters. Civil servants that don't handle civil complaints. (Now that's an oxymoron-ish).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Petition for Banishment

I have decided to start a petition to banish all Cricket cell phones. Am tired of people calling 9-1-1 or even calling in on non-emergency phone line and trying to understand what the reporting party is asking for or needing over the crackle/static/wavering cellular line.

I have been told part of the problem is based on their cellular wavelength. Part of the problem is the lack of Cricket designated cell towers. Part of the problem is the programing. Part of the problem is the cell phone design. Big part of the problem is a combination of all this plus more.

As soon as I answer a phone call I can tell immediately if the person is calling on a Cricket cell phone without even having to look at the phone receiving screen. I hope it isn't an emergency because I know it will be a difficult call for service trying to ascertain the necessary information over a bad connection, even when the connection is at its strongest.

What is it going to take to get Cricket to make the necessary changes in their cellular programing or towers or cell phone design to help alleviate this problem? Maybe for some people the great prices are enough of an incentive to deal with the snap, crackle and pop while talking on their cell phones. But, let's hope they don't have to call for help because on the emergency services side, it is a safety issue in my mind.

Who wants to sign my petition?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


And yet, another pet peeve to whine about. Those people who don't know their north/south/east/west.

The community I work in is almost 95% set right on the proper axis. The downtown, oldest part of the community is parallel to the railroad tracks, so they are set on a NW axis. But that is only a small part of the whole 500,000 populated area.

Even when you give points of interest or well known outlying communities for reference, it is amazing to me how many people still don't know their location. People are following suspects and they don't even know the direction they are traveling behind that really crazy or drunk driver, but they want you there before the person kills someone. Or a stranger just jumped into their backyard and can't tell the police from which direction they came from or running towards, but they want you to catch the person right away.

It's really simple people to learn the directions of axis in your community. Doesn't take much more than looking at a map. Learn it folks. If not for any other reason than for your own and family safety.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You're Kidding Me, Right?

Once again, in an attempt to track down an owner of a vehicle the address belongs to the adult child who no longer lives at that address. And once again the parent doesn't know his child's phone number or address. But at least this time the parent had it written down somewhere. So many times the parent doesn't even have that information.

One excuse for parents to not know the basic contact information for their adult children is they move around a lot. But yet, all these adult children have cell phones. So their phone number isn't changing as regular as their physical address.

I am the parent of adult children. Cell phone numbers are easy to remember. And it is easy enough to write down or key in the ever changing address in my own cell phone or store in wallet.

Get a clue folks. Even if your child does not live with you, be aware of where they live and how to get in contact with them. Who knows, your local law enforcement agency might need to make contact with them for an emergency. Or your family might have a life or death emergency and you need to contact them quickly and easily.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spit It Out

Come on folks. You call 9-1-1 or a non-emergency phone number. You know what you want or think you're going to get. But, yet, you go, "ah, ah, ah, and ah, (long silence)". Not just at the beginning but several times during your phone call.

Spit it out. Hopefully you're not calling for help without any idea of what you're calling help for. Yes, we get those people who talk too much. But they don't drive me as nuts as those callers who can't seem to spit out what they are calling about.

And we're not talking about speech deficiencies here. It's different, too, when English is a second language. I am talking about those people where English is their only language and they still can't seem to speak it.

aaahhh.... so much of my time is wasted on these people. Like pulling teeth from a chicken. Oh yeah, chicken don't have teeth. But these callers do. And a tongue. And some type of working grey matter. Right???

Whew. I feel much better for that tantrum. I can see why kids like doing this.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Super Power Hearing

If you dispatch for any length of time, you develop a very special super power. Your hearing and ability to "read into" the verbal messages and speech is a very superior skill that builds over experience and time. Since we don't have the opportunity to read the other person's body language like an officer responding to an event, we "hear" differently.

Recently took a 9-1-1 hang up. When I called back to confirm everything was okay, following policy of having the person on the other side of the call confirm address and telephone number, got a male on the phone who was sniffing and muttering child made a mistake (but child was already gone when asked about the child) and he didn't know the address and phone number.

His demeanor, his avoidance, his repetitiveness of "it's a mistake" set off an internal alarm that was forged over years of experience. It told me that something was off center and needed attention. So a call for service was created and officers were sent. Sent a note to the officers that something sounded hinky and they were like, "okay, we'll check it out."

Well, lo and behold, what did officers find? A domestic violence situation with the suspect male trying to hide from officers. After all, he was in violation of a restraining order and on probation. So this visit by officers meant a pair of silver bracelets were gifted to his wrists and a drive down to the county jail for booking with a future return to the state funded country club to finish his original sentence due to, , domestic violence and assault.

The officers were very good about not shrugging off my gut reaction to the call. They took me serious and it paid off. Now, the only problem is, how does a dispatcher explain this super power and ability in an articulate and accurate manner in an easy to understand format for court?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pet Peeve

Just want to sound off on a pet peeve against officers. (Like that doesn't happen regularly in this blog.) Listen up coppers: Don't try to dispatch from your vehicles!

Am so tired of an officer deciding what calls he wants to respond to or changing what units are responding to calls after I have dispatched them. Get a clue copper - it's not your job! It's mine. And if you doubt that, then look at our job descriptions.

Not only that, but you are too focused on what you want and don't want. I am looking at the whole picture. I see what needs to be handled. I am aware of priorities and how it works. I have an event monitor that tells me which units are closer than others, you don't. I know what officers are available and where they are located within the city.

So, you don't want to take the paper call. Would rather respond as a backup on a burglar alarm. Reality is, copper, I am in charge. You will respond where I say. Because the citizens has been waiting two hours to file that paper call you don't want and you wanting to fill on the burglar alarm so you can visit with your buddy when another officer is actually closer is just not going to happen.

And don't cop (no pun intended) an attitude when you are told "no" on the air. Hopefully the sergeant has been paying attention and backs me up. Or you try the sneaky thing by sending me messages over the computer telling me what you want to do. And then pretend you don't get my written reply of "no". Especially when you know it's a sergeant who understands, since you don't, that dispatchers tell officers where to go, not officers deciding where they go.

And just so you know, dear reader, this is the cleaned up version and third rewrite. My first draft was a very angry written discourse after almost two back to back episodes of this problem with the same officer. After checking for typos I realized that it was maybe just a bit (just a tiny bit) too harsh and point blank in my anger. So a bit of rewrite was called for. But then it sounded a bit namby pamby. So another rewrite and here it is.

And I wish I could feel better for writing it down. But I am smart enough to realize that the persons who need to read it won't be and probably wouldn't see themselves in it anyways. After all, they are the officers and they know more than any mere dispatcher.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pot - Marijuana

Am so tired of hearing about pot/marijuana. Whether it is complaint callers about smelling their neighbors use (through house walls and over the fence if you will) to articles in the newspaper about the growing number of permits issued for medical marijuana growth and sales to television news about the latest field found on Federal land or movie stars who point out its side effects and habit creating essence isn't any different than alcohol.

In a nutshell folks: Unless you have a prescription to smoke it or a permit to grow it and sell it for medical purposes, it is illegal.

No discussion on medical benefits. No discussion on its addictive properties. No discussion on the loss of taxable income if legal product.

Simple folks. You believe it should be a legal product, like alcohol and cigarettes and other over the counter products, get yourself into a position to change the law. Don't sit in your chair or hammock whining. Clean yourself up, gain a vocabulary, and do what you got to do to change the law. It has been done in the past.

Just quit whining and writing and broadcasting about this subject ad nauseum.

Monday, December 1, 2008

How Do You Spell Smith?

Apparently the public think because we are civil service we are uneducated and unable to spell basic names and words. Am so tired of people feeling the need to spell out, slowly cause I clearly am stupid, simple or common names. Now I could understand if the name is differently spelled or not a commonly used name, but really folks. Was it necessary for the person to spell out Smith?

Anyone who has taken a civil service entrance exam knows only basic reading and writing skills are necessary. Anyone who has ever taken the civil service entrance exam knows it tests more than the basics. Anyone who has ever had to grade the civil service entrance exam knows there are a lot of people with high school diplomas who don't know how to punctuate or spell correctly or use grammar correctly. Rudiment English won't cut the mustard for many civil service entrance exams that entail public contact.

Having worked in a legal office in the past, it is true that those of socially elevated employment (even the legal secretaries and paralegals) believe civil servants are not the brightest of bulbs, thus they work at jobs that would better fit the uneducated (but not quite the unwashed) that would be beneath them of elevated employment status. Apparently people forget a lot of attorneys and psychologists and social workers (those from the socially elevated employment ranks) started their professional careers as patrol officers, dispatchers, etc.

I have two Associate Degrees. Only a few units shy of my first Bachelor's Degree. By the time I finish my desired courses I will have three Bachelor's Degrees. Soooo... at least I can say I'm not a dumb duck. Just like the challenge that civil service provides. Hmmm... maybe I'm crazy. Yeah, that's got to be it. I wonder if I can get anyone to certify me so I can take a nice long vacation?