Thursday, December 23, 2010


Many agencies offer its citizens the opportunity to ride-a-long with an officer. Usually it seems the riders are college students putting in hours as required for a criminology class or the media doing a news research for a specific story or a family member wanting to see what their love one does during a shift. Very rarely, and I mean that word rarely, does a private citizen take the time to see what happens during the course of an officers shift working the streets.

What is even more rare, I mean like never, does a citizen do a sit-a-long with a dispatcher.

A citizen calls their local agency asking for an officer to file a report, maybe for a vehicle burglary or residential burglary or theft of a bike, or a fight, etc. When they call back 30 minutes later or three hours later, wondering why no one has yet contacted them about their problem, a dispatcher is whom becomes the receiver of their complaints about the time, the money they spend on taxes, thus paying for my paycheck, and probably because of their ethnicity or neighborhood is why police aren't coming out any faster.

Come on folks. Give me and my dispatching family a break. We personally don't care what your skin color is. Your neighborhood may be run down, but it doesn't delay in the response time.

I try to take time to explain a bit about priorities. We have to handle fights and car accidents before we handle a cold burglary call. Yes, your business was broken into, discovered at 6:00 am, but since then two accidents and a fire assist request has come in and tie up the officers who would be meeting with you and taking your complaint of the loss of equipment.

When the caller starts to get mouthy it is hard not to return the verbal fencing. But cooler head can prevail and an offer to the citizen to come join me for part of my shift, see the volume of calls and the type of calls that come in, to learn the priority system we work and why it is arranged in that manner, is offered regularly.

In the almost two decades of dispatching I have NEVER had a citizen take me up on my offer. I have had family members and Boy Scouts working on merit badges or a new officer as part of his orientation sit with me. But NEVER a citizen who wants to understand better why the delay in getting different kinds of help.

It is a frustrating part of our job. Of my job. Not sure what has been accomplished from this tirade. Just needed to express a complaint I guess.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hello Again

Sorry for my no show lately. Things at work and home got a bit out of control. But hopefully things are back on track, though still a bit hill-y.

I have changed agencies. It was either that or reach over and yell back at some of the nitwits I was sharing a room with. And the call receiving end was getting out of control. Not sure how a department can continue to deal with the cutbacks City Hall has been demanding and still give the service necessary to their community for the safety of the very community City Hall and PD are paid to deliver. Am in a much happier place now.

I have been reading other's blogs, though. Love to comment a high five or shake of head. Bloggers usually start writing for themselves. When they realize others are reading their comments too, well, it is quite an adrenaline rush.

Please, LE bloggers, keep writing for yourselves. Many of us in the LE family can empathize, though maybe not always agree. But having the safe domain of blogging to express yourself, I am coming to realize, is very important.

Okay world... here I come...... back.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Got An Idea

Recently got a phone call from a lady who was sitting in the office of Social Services trying to get some government monies to help. While sitting there and dealing with the red tape, in walked a guy she knew from the apartment complex. Got in line to request government assistance as well.

Aww... but wait. It gets interesting. She knows that the guy is a wanted felon (her words) and has the nerve to walk in asking for a handout (again her indignant words).

With a little research I found she was right. He had a couple warrants out on him. One a no bail. Covertly a clothing description was given and officers sent to hook and book his ass.

Guess he won't need the handout he was requesting as his meals and lodgings will be provided by the taxpayers in the form of jail time.

My idea is this: Why aren't we running every applicant for government assistance of any outstanding warrants? Maybe we can ship some people to other counties to deal with or quit rewarding their bad behavior with free handouts while they avoid their punishment for other terrible times?

I can almost hear those liberals yelling about the privacy of those with no warrants being invaded as someone searches a database for wants on them. Hello folks. If you know you don't have a warrant but want handouts, it's a small price to pay. If you know you have a warrant, well, your handouts will be on a plastic tray while you're behind bars.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

I have complained, ad naseum, of the abuse of citizens using 9-1-1 for information.

Like the lady who called asking for the phone number to Probation. Explained to her that she should call 4-1-1 but to be helpful I gave her the phone number. She got a bit mouthy and said it was my job to give help however I was needed.

But the kicker was the off duty officer, yes - one of my puppies - who called on the officer line asking for the phone number and address of a business he wanted to talk to. A furniture store no less.

Not work related at all. Just wanted to see a piece they had advertised on sale.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

UFO Hotline

After many more years than I want to think about, I have given out, for the second time, the UFO Hotline phone number.

For those that want to know, it's 206-722-3000

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How Did That Happen?

Seems that responses to my posts are coming out in Japanese. Not sure why. Am trying to figure it out. Is frustraiting, for I fear I am missing some good points. Bear with me folks while I try to repair this.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

God Complex

God Complex:: Term generally used to describe an individual who consistently believes they can accomplish more than is humanly possible...

Can't imagine anyone who gets into law enforcement doesn't come in without the desire or need or want to help people and/or solve their life issues.

Watch television shows. Love how those pretend officers solve the problems of families that took years to cultivate. How one meeting with an officer will help a hoodlum or juvenile brat change their life direction.

When you start this job as a dreamy eyed optimist there is the belief in self that y0u will change the life of many people for the better and change the hearts of criminals to start walking the straight and narrow.

Then reality sets in. And the crappy hours and working conditions start to wear down your heart and soul. The lack of support from administrators, superior (and I use the term loosely) officers and co-workers can rub you raw. Then watching district attorney offices, to simplify their case loads and pad their numbers, plead down a case or a judge slap the offender on the wrist is very hard to swallow and survive at times.

But still the brave and foolish hearted law enforcement officers and dispatchers continue to slog on in the upward and treacherous trail of safety and law enforcement in hopes of finding that moment, that person, that life to improve and change.

After years of abuse from government employers and citizens we serve, the shields of the God Complex is tarnished and worn at points. It is harder to keep pinned to our uniforms. May even be missing some lettering or badly dented.

But year after year officers and dispatchers scotch tape or duct tape that well worn shield to their hearts and continue to try to help and serve those who don't deserve it or want it in hopes of finding that person or cause to save.

These are Every Day Heros that deserve ticker tape parades and streets named after them and books published by the thousands and interviewed on talking heads shows.

I salute you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Say What?!

Our local government, in all its collective wisdom, publicly announced the reason there will be additional employee lay offs is because the local officers association refused to concede to furloughs and that money would have saved several government jobs.


The way I understand it, and I have an inside track, the local officer association actually offered other suggestions and concessions that would have saved the local government tens of thousands and practically offered an interest free loan to help through the transition.

But the hang up for the government leaders was the unwillingness of the officers to take furloughs. Though the local officer association suggestions would save the local government more money in the long run.

Oh yeah. These government leaders really know how to take care of their citizens safety and pocketbooks. And show their support of their local law enforcement.

Wonder if citizens can do a McChrystal to these local government leaders?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Returning to Work

After almost 12 days away from this hell hole, I returned to everything the same. Except with now less people to carry out the work.

Tired of hearing we should be glad we have a job when others are getting laid off. If those in charge had been doing their jobs in the first place we wouldn't be in this financial crisis and having to release people from work who actually work.

Notice all the upper division jobs are still intact. How nice for them. They may actually have to work now that their support staff is all gone.

And our poor citizens are being asked to become volunteers and learn how to do fingerprinting and write reports to take reports from other citizens like vehicle burglaries, graffitti, etc. Can only imagine the court cases and their testimony in court. See this volunteer, in his 80's, saying he just wanted to help the police and live out his childhood dream of being a cop, and though the fingerprint cards might be a little smeared they matched other cards from other similar crimes and ain't it a hoot that he got to be a real crime fighter.

And what's this crap about just taking one call at a time? Seeing all those calls waiting for answering can drive me crazy. And the callers get more stupid and more stupid. Am so tempted to point out how stupid and ridiculus the caller is being.

Summers mean additional calls for service. The heat really brings out the crazies. And I am expected to put in more hours.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Canidate for Mother of the Year

Actually had to wait a few days before posting this one.

Seventeen year old calls in tears. Mom has locked her out of the house, again. She went to friends house who sheltered her so she could stay in school. Mom knows where she is at.

Apparently Mom kicked out daughter because daughter told Mom about Mom's boyfriend making inappropriate comments and keeps invading her personal space and so far just touching her shoulders and neck. Mom says daughter is lying and just trying to make trouble. So kicked her out.

The important boyfriend has a criminal history and is a sexual predator registrant.

Okay, clearly he is a catch and her daughter is not worth the effort.

The hardest thing about the phone call was I couldn't give her any real help. Mom can call her back at any time because the girl is not yet of legal age. School is coming to close and talking to the counselor gave her the phone number to a support group. Father is deceased and maternal grandmother more afraid of her daughter, the mother to the young girl.

It seemed so wrong that I couldn't tell her to stay away as best she can. Start organizing other homes willing to offer shelter until her 18th birthday. Wish I had asked when that was happening. Wish I could have offered her the shelter of my own home.

Wish I could have done something to help this girl. There are times when this job really sucks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Gall of Some People

Okay. This blog was created as a means to express the ups and downs of the public safety dispatching job. And ever so often it is a single phone call that just makes you sit back in your chair and wonder about the gall of some people.

Female calls up screaming mad that her daughter's school is refusing to allow the child's father (her husband) to attend their daughter's junior high school graduation.

Further questioning reveals the following:

Father has been arrested for assault on school grounds to school staff and damage to school property. In fact, he has an outstanding warrant for those very charges.

Okay ma'am. So you're wanting the school to basically reward his past bad behavior, on the very school grounds that he created this problem, so he can watch his daughter graduate from junior high school? And you know he has this warrant that is over a year old?

Her reply, minus the dramatic sighs, high volume and lack of non-cursing verbal skills, was the school was being rude and unprofessional and it wasn't right. She even suggested to the school that they just have their daughter graduate within the first half hour and he could leave.

Clearly this woman is living in la-la land to think a school is going to totally rewrite the agenda for the graduation ceremony to accommodate a man who has little self-control and a lack of ownership to his bad actions by not handling the warrant.

The kicker to this story? The female caller has her own outstanding warrant for..... drum roll.... assault and vandalism.

Sensitivity Training

If you do this job for very long, you really lose the ability to be sensitive and feel empathy for many of the callers and citizens. Not all of the people who call in are waste of breathing room on the planet. Some really are victims of others greed and stupidity. They are worthy of our heart-clenches and quick intakes of breath.

But it is those other callers that I want to rag about.

I have a wonderful manicurist. Part of the reason we have had a client relationship that has evolved into friendship over many years is partially because she is a former police dispatcher. Yes, some dispatchers actually leave the headache inducing - stomach clenching - despair rendering job and find very self-satisfying work away from the trauma and drama of daily public safety dispatching work. She has become a great sounding board who truly understands the ups and downs of the job. She can commiserate.

Our last time together we were talking about how I have lost so much of my empathy over all these years of listening to doom and gloom and horror. It isn't a "something" a person can find in lost and found. It isn't a "something" one can hold or wear like a piece of jewelry. I feel the loss inside. Am aware of the loss of the "piece" because I know there was a time when I felt the need to help those who needed it or wanted it. Don't have the need any more.

She shared with me the phone call that got her assigned to sensitivity training.

A victim of domestic violence was calling 9-1-1 for help. Suspect was outside the door and she didn't know what to do. As this was not the first time the victim has been beat up or the first time she has called in for help, my manicurist - then dispatcher - simply told her, "Don't open the fucking door. He can't get in and hurt you if you don't open the fucking door for him."

I'm hearing this story, raising my mental fist going "rah rah", and recognizing the desire to replicate her response to some of my callers. Okay, truthfully, to many of my callers.

Sadly, as our phone calls/work is recorded, it was brought to the attention of the supervisor and sergeant about her response to the woman's pleas on what to do. The smile of the sergeant was hard to hold back apparently as he listened to the call, again, with the former dispatcher. The supervisor gave a huge sigh and said that this former dispatcher would clearly benefit from sensitivity training, reminding her that it is not her job as a call taker to offer such, aww, direct solutions to domestic situations.

How many of us dispatchers / call takers / officers haven't wanted to utter those words of advise? Raise your hands.

Sometimes the stupidity, only word I can think of besides the multiple words of their tunnel vision thinking, to describe our citizens, just doesn't compute with me. And listening to their whines and acquiesce to their surroundings and situations without backbone and conjones to work for more and better just boggles this above average IQ'd person.

To the men and women who accept verbal and/or psychological and/or physical abuse from their partners...

"Don't open the fucking door. You can't get hurt if you don't open the fucking door and let them in."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

You Know....

You Know You've Been A Dispatcher Too Long When:

You eat more fast food than leftovers/homemade meals
You have forgotten how to read a clock in anything but military time
U can't write a ltr w/o it being abbd
You answer your home phone or cell phone, "9-1-1, What's your emergency?"
The thought of working a Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 5:oo pm job terrifies you
You can talk clearly with food in your mouth, after all, we only eat between phone calls
You dream in code: 10-code, 11-code, Vehicle Code, Penal Code, Municipal Code

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Calls With Children The Worst

We get stupid callers every day - all day. And basically I try to keep my patience on the surface and the anger in check. But when the stupidity and cruelness and laziness hurts or endangers a child, I really find it hard to not unload on these jerks.

Today one of my last calls on shift was a guy who was very very angry I wasn't sending an officer right out to the apartment his x-girlfriend has been living at because she has their mutual child. This is basically what happened:

Caller and his girlfriend had a lovely little girl. After awhiles apparently mom picked up a meth habit. After she lied and stole from everyone, she got kicked out of her house, her family disowned her, and caller finally got daughter moved in to his place. The mother moved in with a friend who also is dealing with their own meth addiction.

Three weeks later caller gives in to the mother's cries of missing their daughter. He meets her at a park so mother and daughter can have a little time together. Mother sneeks away with the child. Now caller trying to find the child and mother and demanding we take the child back and arrest the mother.

Here's the kicker. Has no clue where she and the child are located. Mother has no job. No family member will have anything to do with her. And she's not at the apartment she has been staying at for the last couple of weeks. And there is no custody order either. But apparently we are the bad guys for not locating the mother and child and taking the child away and give her back to caller.

There's the really rough call from yesterday. A 2 year old child is dead under suspicious circumstances. When the family members first called 9-1-1 there was a lot of confusion on what was happening. Then family members were moving the phone to person to person while conferring with the medical assistance.

One person would be calm and repeat/yell out instructions on how to provide CPR. One person would get on the phone and scream and cry (didn't sound true). Another person would get on the phone and act confused and bewildered (which did sound like a normal mental state).

They had all kinds of reasons why the child wasn't breathing. And the way the call was going, I wonder if they were really trying to even give CPR to the child. Officers arrived on scene and found suspicious marks on the child. Now under investigation.

Or the candiate for Mother-of-the-Year call for service that just happened. Fourteen year old daughter ran away. Mother reported the event to the police. Couple days later the daughter shows up at the local hospital emergency room early hours of the morn clearly having been beaten up. Hospital staff call the police to advise there is an assault victim in their emergency room who also admits to being a runaway.

Officers arrive to take a report. Girl is very frightened to share all that happened to her, the recent beating in addition to the reasons for running away. From what little I gleaned, the girl ran from an abusive home only to end up being beaten up by one of the people at the location she was hiding at.

The kicker to this event is the mother's reaction. The officer calls her to say daughter has been located, is at the hospital being treated for abrasions as the result of being beaten up, about to be released, so come on over and pick her up. Mom says nope, don't want her, arrest her and send her away and the hospital better not be sending her a bill for the medical assistance.

Calls for service that deal with children are the worst. When adults are being stupid with other adults and hurting themselves, I can laugh it off. But when their adult stupidity and selfishness and their own wants/desires actions take control of their behavior that injures or kills or puts a child in dangers way is just not acceptable.

The father calling in worried about his daughter failed her by not protecting her from a mother with a known drug addiction by being lazy and not filing for custody of the child and not keeping a close enough eye on them while at the park.

The parents of the toddler failed the child by not taking care of the gift they had.

The mother of the teen clearly can't be bothered with the needs of her child who is more willing to take on the outside world than to stay home under the abusive living conditions created by who knows what problems the mother has, real and/or not.

Wish I could figure out the way to solve this issue. Or at least have the freedom to kick their asses and subject them to the same lack of care and abuse they dished out to their children.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cell Phones

Seems like everyone has them. Some of them are even advertised and promoted as being "smart". Too bad their owners/users are not.

"9-1-1, what is your emergency?"
"Oh, you mean I can call 9-1-1 from my cell phone?"
"Yes, sir, just like your home phone. Do you have an emergency?"
'No, just wanted to know what I can do with my cell phone."

"9-1-1, what is your emergency?"
-baby babble-
"Hi baby. Where is mama? Say mama."
-baby babble-
"Say mama, baby. Where is mama?"
"What are you doing with my phone? Give it back to me."
hang up
call back
"Hi, ma'am. This is 9-1-1. Your baby was playing with your cell phone and called 9-1-1. Everything alright?"
"Lady, you crazy. He's only six months old. How he gonna call 9-1-1?"
"On many cell phones it is very easy to dial 9-1-1 by mistake. We just call back to make sure everything is alright."
"My baby did not call 9-1-1 and you're wasting my time."
hang up

"9-1-1. What is your emergency?"
"My boyfriend won't let me see my baby."
"Is he there right now ma'am?"
"No. He left a couple days ago with my baby. I want my baby back."
"Ma'am, 9-1-1 is for life and death emergencies. Please call our non-emergency line."
"This is an emergency. He won't let me have my baby back."
"Is there a custody order ma'am?"
"A what? What for? I'm the mother. I'm here right now to pick up my baby and he won't let me in."
"Is the baby his?"
"Yeah. So what? I'm the mother. I'm the one who takes care of him."
"We can not take the child away from him. I suggest you go to the court house and file for custody."
"I want my baby back!"
"Ma'am, if you have any questions, please call our non-emergency line. Better yet, head to the court house to file for custody. You don't even need an attorney."
"You have to do something or I will."
"Ma'am. Please think before you do anything. Get yourself some legal advice."
"What good are the police if they can't help?"
*Note: We ended up out there to arrest the mother for assault and vandalism against baby father and his apartment.*

Cell phones can be helpful. A great tool. At times I can't imagine living without mine. But wish those citizens that I serve would be smart when using their smart phones.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm A Hero Too

As much as our local newspaper loves to slam our Officers for every real or imagined slight, they have been known to acknowledge some of the good work of these men and women in blue. Saying that, I do wish that the Dispatchers were remembered and thought of as hero's too.

Imagine sitting in a windowless room, with padded walls lacking any real color, a few scattered photo enlargements of outdoor scenes, maybe three feet from the person sitting next to you, in chairs not designed for 24 hour use, two to three computer screens in front of you, listening to hour upon hour upon hour of crying, complaining, whining, confusion, panic, pain, fear, anger, drunken conversation, lectures on how to do the job, demands what they expect from you, language barriers and accents, well, you get the picture.

In response to these working conditions we must soothe, pull information from minds not functioning fully due to either or combination of alcohol/drugs/fear/confusion/anger/pain/panic/language/accents, answer questions - many of which should be asked of a legal advisor (but we're cheaper), give directions, play nursemaid, marriage and/or mental health counselor, phone information operator, well, you get the picture.

When working the radio we deal with sometimes an unending list of calls for service waiting to be dispatched. Anywhere between 12 to 70 officers listed as present on my screen, thus my responsibility of keeping safe and knowledgeable of where they are at all times. Officers who are so focused on what they are doing out in the field they are not paying attention to the dispatcher who is also trying to assist 20 other officers and keeps talking over or demanding more information to be researched, while assisting yet another 20 officers and dispatching calls for service. Trying to understand what they are saying while eating their mikes, or yelling into the mikes, or asking them to repeat because they are speaking so fast my 100+ words per minutes cannot keep up.

Citizens treat us like nit-wits and mentally slow because we tell them we can't do what they are wanting or simply not understanding how, as law enforcement, we can solve the problem overnight that they created over years of refusal to deal with the problem. Citizens feel as Public Servants it is our job to cater to their needs and wants, whether reasonable or not.

Officers treat us like we are of a lower society class, there for their needs and wants. Our job to simplify their lives. Get all the necessary information before they arrive. Know instinctively the back up or additional equipment necessary. We should be mind readers and know what is happening out there. And heaven forbid a "thank you" and "well done" be uttered more than once or twice a year.

Our Supervisors and the Brass have no problems dumping additional responsibilities or cutting back minimum staffing. They are fast to criticize and "Monday Morning Quarterback" and very short to praise and acknowledge good work. A "thank you" and "well done" even more foreign from that quarter.

Because I do this job with the best heart and patience and tolerance and incongruity and intelligence and skill and tears that I can muster, hour after hour, makes me a Hero too, dammit.

Monday, May 3, 2010

You're Being Paid To Work

This tirade is directed at those co-workers who find time to talk on their cells (am really tired of hearing their phones go off, too - but for another posting), talk with other dispatchers over non-work issues for great lengths of time, take extra long breaks and lunches, or just extra breaks... in other words... not doing the work they are being paid for.

Yes, I know, every office has this problem. I have worked private industry for many years. Am aware no matter how small or how large an office is, there is always someone who seems to skate by on minimal work output. Usually they are related to or have some sort of relationship with, the one in charge.

In the Communications Center, the Supervisor's favorites always seem to be the laziest on shift. The dispatchers who socialize with the Supervisor in their office for half-an-hour a few times a week. The Supervisor who rides you about a call for service made up but you see a similar type call handled almost exactly by a favorite that seems to carry different weight.

For those of us with work ethics, who know and recognize we are being paid to work and have numerous calls for service made up, computer records can show numerous phone calls fielded, forwarded or assisted, who only take the allotted break times and number permitted, who put their cell phones on mute, who keep personal phone conversations to a minimum (because, let's face it kids, it is impossible not to have occasional personal phone conversation at work) and just do the job overall, I salute you.

As lay-offs continue to mount up the body count of the law enforcement unemployed, as the crime rate continues to rise, as the volume of calls asking for assistance getting more frequent, as the weather warms and the beer flows more freely, as the demand on our attention and time and psychological health at work increases exponentially, let's rise and kick in the arse those who aren't pulling their weight. And remind them, they are getting paid to work. And if they don't want to work then let them volunteer for lay-off. Then they can take as many breaks and as long a break as they want. This is not the time to allow their laziness and thoughtlessness and poor work ethics or their personal relationship with the Supervisor to impact us any more.

Let's unite against these people who instead of helping carry the burden of work they add to the stress and work levels. I don't know about you, but I'm friggin' tired of it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Okay, okay. Been away for awhile. Not away from the work, but away from here. And I really need to get back. Makes me feel better to share my experiences with those who have dealt with similar problems.

Guess you could say I am back in fighting form. Like many dispatchers, sometimes the work grabs your inside, twists, and holds on with feverish strength to weaken the person. The combination of callers sharing their drama and trauma hour after hour after hour; the officers eating their mikes and angry you ask them to repeat; the co-workers who seem to find time to talk and socialize while you're going from call to call to call, can really wear down a person.

So, new attitude is needed.

Like many departments across this great land, we have had layoffs and reduction of staffing. Which has reduced some services to the public, like no more officer response for cold crimes, but citizens encouraged to use the on-line reporting system for their case number.

Citizens are not happy with these changes. Feel shortchanged and frustrated. Yeah, as a citizen I can agree. But it is a sad reality of our current economic times. And no improvement is seen anywhere in the horizon.

How are other agencies dealing with the changes? Do those agency dispatchers also get the feeling like they are getting dumped on? Made to sooth the angry citizens? Getting yelled at more by citizens? How are you handling the additional stress?