Friday, August 7, 2009
The above is not in my job description as a police dispatcher.
But yet, every day, there are calls with questions and requests for help that would fall in line with what a life coach would assist with. Not criminal matters, but people needing help and guidance. Sometimes it is a matter of voicing what the caller already knows, they just seem to need someone to say it out loud. Sometimes it is more serious and the call taker can only give them names to numerous agencies and phone numbers to contact to get the needed and necessary help.
The bottom line is, why am I not getting paid the big bucks that a certified life coach can and does make? Am I not, many times a day, doing the very job a life coach is hired to do? And they get more respect than a lowly police dispatcher.
What is wrong with this picture?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
This isn't exactly news now is it? So why do people have a problem understanding that those of us in the law enforcement field aren't always available when families and friends are together? Why do they cop (excuse the pun) an attitude when you're not available?
This has been grating on my lately as friends and family have really been having a problem and 'tude with the fact I am not available for all the meetings and gatherings they have been planning. That I sometimes have to work late and so arrive late at the party. Since my shift starts super early in the mornings I go to bed really early. So please understand I am not able to answer the phone to just chat at 7:00 pm. Yes, I am sorry I am missing that baby shower but I will be getting off a 14 hour shift and have to return to work in nine hours. I am sorry I can't attend a club meeting that starts at the hour I go to bed because I have work the next morning.
So Back Off! Quit Whining About Me Not Being At Your Planned Event! It Is Not A Snub! Don't Take It Personally! I Am Working!
-Whew- That felt good.
Monday, August 3, 2009
A definite increase in violent crimes. A definite increase in crimes where drugs and/or alcohol are present. A definite increase in crimes involving identity theft and fraud.
Some say it is caused by the poor economy. Many people out of work and have nothing else to do but take drugs and drink alcohol. (Never understood that phrase... if you don't have money for rent and food, how do you get the money for alcohol and drugs? Oh, yeah, something about choosing the effects caused by alcohol and drugs over sustaining your life.)
Most people in the community I work in have no idea just how bad it is getting. That is to their advantage in many ways.
Because I am privy to so much information it makes me really happy and safe feeling to know I don't live here. Yes, I know that there are probably many of the same horrible things happening in the large community I work happening in the small community I reside. But I don't know about it so I feel much safer.
There is great bliss in the ignorance.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
But... ever so often... there is a call... that reminds you why you are here and going this job.
I played an important part of stopping a woman from committing suicide.
She called to let the agency know she was preparing to step in front of a train that was due shortly at her chosen location. She knew the schedule and knew approximately how fast it would be going. She just wanted us to know so we could respond quickly to help clean up the mess (which she apologized for) so others didn't have to see it or come up on it unexpectedly.
She was very matter-of-fact. Was talking very calmly. Explained why she felt it was the thing to do. How taking too many pills hadn't worked, just made her sick. And cutting her wrists only gave her new and additional scars. That this was the fastest and easiest way to do it.
I know in many ways it was my training that helped to keep her on the phone until officers arrived to get her the necessary help. Not my winning personality. I know that there is a good chance, a very good chance, she will eventually make good her attempt at suicide.
But it didn't happen that day on my watch.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Just another example of how little regard people have for their local law enforcement.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Why is it when the person who is speaking to someone who English is not the primary language... or when the person who is speaking English as a second or third language...
... almost always each end talks much louder than normal. Does the speaker really believe the listener will understand better if the volume is raised?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Amendment VIII - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Clearly, law enforcement personnel are not eligible for this Amendment. Due to the very nature of our job judges and jails don't want us in the jail awaiting trial, so bail is not excessive. It is more likely to be released on OR for the safety of the law enforcement person. But excessive fines nor excessive punishment? Please. We must be made an example of. Are we not held at a higher level of proper behavior than the average citizen? We aren't allowed to be emotional or upset or angry. We must have ice water in our veins. Fighting back? Charges of police brutality. Make a citizen obey a simple law? Charges of Abuse of Authority. Write a speeding ticket? Charges of harassment and not going after actual criminals. Well, you get the idea.
Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Apparently, when John Madison wrote this Amendment he was saying that not all Amendments already approved cover all the rights that the People will need. But as a member of the Law Enforcement family, individual/People rights are not guaranteed. Just look at my comments and views and opinions stated above.
Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
In other words, what our Federal Government has not covered with Amendments, our State laws should. Ha. We all know how much the Federal Government has encroached on our daily lives. Our State laws get more restrictive to follow along what our Federal Government has decreed. Usually on the offer of monies to go along with those new dictates. And law enforcement, expected to work their job with even more restrictions and higher expectations of behavior. For us, the chain of law makings are Federal, State, County, City, Agency, Public Opinion, SOP, media, and maybe, just maybe, finally our personal self.
Monday, July 13, 2009
When we take the oath at the time of our hire for a law enforcement job, we promise to uphold the laws of our city/county, state and Constitution. What is not part of the oath is our willingness to give up our own Constitutional Rights, our Bill of Rights in the Constitution. For example:
Amendment V - No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
If you are even thought to be part of a crime, you are put on leave. And the double jeopardy? Well, let's see... there is the IA investigation/charges/actions. And then the actual crime issues. That is, if you are actually part of a crime. And then the media prosecution, that goes on long after the actual event or trial has happened. And not be a witness against self? Oh please, like we have any personal space that isn't open to our supervisors at any given time. On duty and off duty. Don't they tell us that even our off duty time is subject to scrutiny and we must uphold our actions and opinions accordingly? Does that not deprive us of some personal life and liberty without or with a very limited about of due process of law?
Amendment VI - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
The speedy and public trial is done in the newspapers and on the news stations. Not in the courts. Are they not? Don't these "news" writers make a decision on your guilt (not your innocence) and report it as fact? If you think not I suggest you just turn on any news station and pick up any newspaper or google for news article that pertains to a member of law enforcement that is being investigated or alleged to be part of a crime.
Amendment VII - In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Twenty dollars? Okay, even looking over that point, law enforcement staff are open to lawsuits unlike any other career, due to the type of work we do and the subject manner we handle. As dispatchers, we can be sued in civil court for matters that officers can not. Now tell me, is that fair? Is that right? Oh yeah, we don't have a union or organization with power like officers have.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
When we take the oath at the time of our hire for a law enforcement job, we promise to uphold the laws of our city/county, state and Constitution. What is not part of the oath is our willingness to give up our own Constitutional Rights, our Bill of Rights written in the Constitution. For example:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
As a member of law enforcement, we don't have the right to state our views or opinions. At least, not in public. Has to be behind closed doors. And hope there is no audience because it could come back and bite you in the ass at a court case (remember the Simpson trial) or for disciplinary action (for those of us who blog our thoughts/opinions and are threatened with our jobs if we continue).
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Most officers carry firearms off duty. After all, never know when a suspect they have dealt with decides for a little payback. But those of us who also deal with these same suspects are not permitted to carry a weapon for protection. After all, we are invisible, they don't know our names. Right. Testifying in court or other information that can be derived from watching the people coming and going from the department is obtainable. And there are those family members who have been known to carry off their own retribution. But we are not candidates for retribution? Okay... Guess those dispatch centers that have been shot up were just accidents?
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Anyone ever hear of eminent domain? Okay, this one we haven't had to give up by joining law enforcement.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Our work lockers are open for search and seizure at any given time. Our purses and other personal items we carry to work are open for search and seizure at any given time. Our phones calls are monitored. Our computer work is monitored. At the agency there is no, I repeat no, right to privacy.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
I love those callers that when you call them back to confirm everything is okay after a 9-1-1 hang up or abandoned call and they argue with you and want to know why you’re bothering them and calling them for no reason. Do they honestly believe I am that bored that I dial numbers randomly just to accuse them of falsely calling 9-1-1?
How many of you have had this call?
Me: Hello. Hello. (over an open 9-1-1 call)
Caller: Hello? Is there someone on this phone?
Me: Hello. This is ________ Police Department. We received a 9-1-1 call from this cell phone. Is everything okay?
Caller: Oh my. Yes. Everything is okay. I put my cell phone in my purse/bag/briefcase/backpack (choose one) and it must have accidentally dialed out. I could hear voices yelling “hello”. Was that you?
Me: Yes sir/madam (choose one again). I am trying to confirm if there is a problem.
Caller: Well, clearly it was an accident. I just said I heard voices coming from my purse/bag/briefcase/backpack (do you really need to choose again?) and was answering.
Me: Yes sir/madam (never mind). I understand about the voices you hear from no where. (Okay, it is my dream to say that.)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Not everyone is happy with the level of customer service we provide. We are refusing to send an officer to talk to their out of control 15 year daughter and instead tell them to talk to the school counselor and learn to handle their child without using the boys and girls in uniform as a threat. A vehicle burglary is not handled with them same priority as a robbery which can upset the victim who just lost a chunk of their CD selection and has to wait two or eight hours for a Cadet or Community Service Officer to respond.
But we, as dispatchers, trudge on and try to serve the angry caller with the best diplomacy possible. We can’t point out to them how stupid and childish they are acting when they call in about a child custody issue. We can’t be blunt and tell parents to grow a backbone or a pair of cajones and deal with their children as an adult instead of their friend. We have to be respectful and try to assist.
Many a moon ago I worked for the Disney Corporation. Guest Service is drilled into you from day one and reinforced through monthly staff meetings and games and challenges. Respect for the other person, guest and co-worker, is always in the forefront as is trying to help the guest with questions or directions or problems being paramount. Leaving a positive impression, even when the other person has to be corrected and not getting exactly what they want, is required.
One lesson I like to think I have brought to my dispatching job from my time with “The Happiest Place On Earth” is the ability to acknowledge the other person’s problem without having to fake or express empathy. People call us with their traumas and dramas, sometimes brought on by their own actions. By the simple act of acknowledging their anger or pain or confusion can go a long way in calming the caller. You don’t have to say, “I understand” if you don’t. Just let them know you hear them.
Monday, January 19, 2009
When I work with new dispatchers and new officers, I lecture them (harsh word but apropos) on the need to find balance. In this job they will face and deal with a lot of dark moments and dark people. They will listen for hour upon hour of pain and anger and scared people calling for help. They will be witness to the worst of human (and that’s a generous term) behavior to other humans.
I call that “The Uglies”. To counter the effect, to find balance, I recommend new dispatchers and new officers find “The Pretties” to survive.
“The Pretties” can be joining and active within a community service organization. Or being a Scout Master. Or volunteering at a hospital or animal shelter. “The Pretties” are your efforts in giving back to your community. And it doesn’t even have to be the same community you work in. “The Pretties” are having the opportunity and ability to see and be part of something positive and good.
Yes, I know, we do a lot of good with our job. But it is still wrapped up within “The Uglies” of our work. By being part of “The Pretties” we find balance and can get a feeling of being whole.
Another important way to find balance in our job is to have a circle of friends and activities that are not work related. I guess this would be for just about any job. But in law enforcement, it is really important to be able to separate yourself from the “shop talk” and have to actually think and talk about other subjects that are not related to your job.
So many people I work with seem to have no life outside of their work. Their circles of friends are co-workers. Their extra curricular activities are being reserve officers or mounted patrol or attending all the functions the different divisions have. Or is a union steward and attends every meeting at every level of the union.
So, dear readers, if you are involved with law enforcement do yourself a big favor. Find an activity that has nothing to do with your job but is actually a positive activity or addition to your community. Create a circle of friends, even if only two or three, that have nothing to do with law enforcement so your conversations can be more entertaining and fun, like talking about politics or religion. Or you can be part of an activity that is not work related but fun, like bronco riding or windsurfing.
It is all a matter of finding balance between “The Uglies” of work and “The Pretties” of the world around us.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
So to better deal with the problem, though I know part of the problem is the lack of support from supervisors who play for their favorites, I did a little research and found this list of the top five causes of employee negativity. This is a survey from 1,100 employees and 300 senior human resources executives.
An Excessive Workload
Our workload is ever flexing and ever changing. Most of us seem to deal with manpower shortages and lots of overtime. Agency after agency has seen an increase of criminal activity and thus additional demand on our limited resources. Also with this cold and wet season, lots of people calling in sick. Just finishing the holiday seasons, too, when people love to call in sick because they want the time off to share with families. Only adds to the workload we are already handle every shift.
Our workload entails listening and problem solving people/callers problems for 8-15 hours at a time. Day in, day out. We hear and are exposed to trauma and drama on a constant basis.
Concerns About Management's Ability to Lead
This is where we as employees don't trust our supervisors. Most of us don't feel that our supervisors are truly looking out for our best interests, but just reinforcing the brass' dictates. And the brass doesn't give us in dispatch more thought than they have to.
Anxiety About The Future, Particular Longer Term, Income & Retirement Security
Now, up until a month ago I would have said, this is not one of our notable stress indicators. Once you've passed your probation, in a Civil Service job, you are pretty much set. It is really hard to get rid of people in civil service. Takes lots of documentation and sessions/meetings.
But recently, Cities and Counties are releasing sworn and non-sworn personnel. They are cutting back, hiring freezes, and even demoting some brass to save monies. Never thought I would see this event.
So that means income and our retirement system changes. Heck, in more than one state the Governor has "raided" the employee retirement systems to help offset some of the state's debts.
Lack of Challenge In Their Work, w/ Boredom Intensifying Existing Frustration About Workload
Okay, this is not one of our problems in law enforcement. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is the constant challenges and changes and flexibility we must flex with every phone call or every shift on radio that intensifies work stress and negativity. Think of it, if you're constantly being subjected to negativity and despair, don't you start to absorb it?
Insufficient Recognition For The Level Of Contribution And Effort Provided
One of the reasons listed for workload anxiety is "insufficient recognition for the level of contribution and effort provided". Boy, ain't this the truth. Dispatch is the ugly step child in a police department and gets the shaft so much of the time. And overlooked by officers and brass when an individual makes any extra effort. Just told you're doing your job.
"This is a snapshot of causes of employee negativity. If you can eliminate these five, you have gone a long way in the direction of building a positive, supportive work environment. You’ve minimized the potential for employee negativity."
Well, you would think that since all of us have to deal with the same five issues in the same small work area (most behind locked doors and many without the benefit of windows) we would be drawn and able to work as a team better and more uniformingly. Because of our united purposes and goals and problems, we should be moving in a more harmonious direction. Instead, we seem to turn on each other and bicker over everything and anything.
We complain to our supervisors and we bad mouth each other to our co-horts (notice I don't write co-workers). We don't relieve when we should those people we don't like. We don't acknowledge them or their greeting when issued. We snark and sabotage.
Like the job isn't stressful enough.
Above information was obtained from web address: http://humanresources.about.com/od/workrelationships/a/negativitycause.htm
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Caller: I want to report my daughter's boyfriend hit her.
(start taking the information)
Caller: I have his picture, I can give that to the officer. Daughter carries it in her wallet.
Me: Okay, well, you can share that with the officer.
Caller: It's his mug shot from when he was in prison. Will that help find him?
Me: Ah, your daughter carries her boyfriends mug shot? In her wallet?
Caller: Yeah. Most girls carry their boyfriends pictures in their wallet.
Me: But this is his mugshot she carries?
Caller: Ah, yeah. He was in prison for assault and got out a couple months ago. My daughter just hasn't gotten a newer picture of him, that's all.
It's the truth. The above is almost word for word a fairly recent conversation with a caller. It makes me wonder, is the mother really that comfortable with her daughter dating a felon? Thinks it is okay for her daughter to carry her boyfriend's mugshot as a love token?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
But, then again, unless you are willing to reward these citizens, they aren't willing to spill the information.
Just handled a call from a woman who went through the service that manages our local reward system to confirm the person had a warrant. The caller knows where this wanted woman is located and knows there is a no bail warrant. Which means the Courts don't want this suspect bailing out of jail before she can make an appearance to answer for her numerous crimes.
But because the managing service transferred the call without giving the caller a special code number, and angry I can't guarantee her a reward, she refused to give up the information.
Being a responsible citizen and getting this dangerous person off the street isn't reward enough? You have to be paid to report the suspects location?
I wonder, we can arrest the caller for harboring a wanted person as she clearly knows where the wanted female is located and refusing to share the information with the proper law enforcement agency? Wonder if any agency has tried to do this? Yeah, probably bad public relations. But, shoot.....
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Oh My. I am scaring myself. Seems like every call for service lately has been of a call of aggression and destructive behavior. Where are all my banal calls for violations of child custody orders and audible burglar alarms and vehicle vandalisms. Oh, they're still there. Just getting lost in all the violence.
Anyone have an opinion?
Jeff Mader, Actor
Is this not a great quote? Our agency has as part of its motto (not quoting exactly to protect, well, me): Response in professional, courteous and timely manner.
Reality: If you're lucky you will get a Community Service Officer or Cadet to your residential burglary in an hour. If you're lucky you will get an Officer to talk to your neighbors about their loud music in less than three hours. If you're lucky, you will get that callback from a light duty Officer or CSO or Cadet for the telephonic report of lost property or fraud within two days.
The above is not an exaggeration.
Officers are much better in responding to accidents and fights and shootings. You know, those "hot calls". Where they get to be a real police officer. Not a secretary taking personal information from a victim of theft or counselor listening to the whinings about unruly neighbors.
After all, most of those wearing a badge didn't hire on to play nursemaid to society. They hired on to fight crime and help the innocent. And it allows them to rubberneck in the front row of trauma and drama.
Yeppers... pizza delivery companies have learned the best way to get business is to be prompt and courteous and offer good merchandise at a fair price. Oops. We're not looking to increase our customer base. We're hoping to eliminate it as a final goal.
But there are components we in the law enforcement forum might want to consider for good public relations. Like prompt and courteous service. The good merchandise being professional acting Officers, CSO's, Cadets and Dispatchers. The fair price they pay is their taxes the citizenry already pay. Let's give them good bang for their bucks.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Wow. Are you kidding me?
Check it out::