As I am approaching my 24th year as a police officer, I have noticed a distinct and increasing lack of patience on my part when it comes to understanding the ridiculous reasons people actually pick up a phone and dial 911.
These have happened on Midnights in the last several weeks:
- Drunken man calls 911 to report roommate threw ashes on his cat.
- Drunken man calls 911 to report poor service at fast food restaurant.
- Drunken woman calls 911 to have her daughter committed for wanting to move away.
Before you say, “Well, there is one operative word in the above nonsensical calls,” here are some Dayshift calls I’ve copied:
- Sober parent calls 911 because their child won’t go to school (one of my favorites).
- Sober man calls 911 to report neighbor is blowing grass cuttings into the street.
- Sober girl calls 911 to report she got pretzels instead of chips for lunch.
I realize that sometimes people call 911 because the immediate issue in their lives seems to be an emergency, but Seriously?
I have in the past complained that we will respond to anything including “my bird has the sniffles,” but I thought I had spoken in jest.
- Healthy man calls 911 to ask police for a ride to the homeless shelter, distance two miles.
The police were never called to my house when I was growing up. (The 911 system didn’t exist back then, so you had to dial 0 for the operator on the rotary dial telephone.) I could never envision my Dad, or anyone else’s, needing a cop for anything less than a murder. People handled things on their own.
I guess with the advent of cellular phones, it is just plain easier to call for someone to fix your perceived problem. And cell phones have allowed us to get real-time intel by witnesses in the midst of an incident. But then again, they also allow the criminals to call for rides out of the area before we get there. Argh.
We didn’t respond to all of the above calls, but to some we did. There was at least one arrest. The drunken woman was herself committed. But the last guy was told to just start walking because, believe it or not, it was actually a very, very nice night out at two in the morning…
Randall is a sergeant at a real police department. He sometimes bangs his head on the steering wheel.
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