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.


Jackie said...

*raises hand* Ordinary Citizen who would LOVE LOVE LOVE to do this!

Just saying we are out there, we just don't know who to ask/how to go about it!!


tired.dispatcher said...

Jackie... just call your local law enforcement agency. Ask to speak to the dispatching supervisor. They can help you make it happen. Nice to know there are citizens out there who care enough to learn what is happening instead of complaining on matters they know nothing about.