Heard this in the first five minutes of my first day in field training: “…and don’t take any crap from the dispatchers…”
I think cops maintain a high level of expectation where dispatched information is concerned. Have you ever heard a frustrated officer interrogate a telecommunicator for more information they obviously don’t have?
Many times I have been in the Comm Center and listened to the disjointed babble of some person trying to report a crime in progress. I did not envy the call-taker. That same hysterical person that you can’t get any info from at a scene was likely the same person not providing good information over the phone to a dispatcher.
Telecommunicators sit in a closed room with no other information save that transmitted in to them by telephone and radio. They have no first hand knowledge of what is going on at a criminal incident. They relay, not observe.
Where this impacts officer safety is the danger of believing and acting upon the second-, third-, and maybe fourth-hand information given over a radio channel by dispatch.
I have heard officers, and some veteran ones, complain that they arrived at calls that were nothing like the dispatch. Right! And why did you expect they would be?
Let’s make some positive assumptions:
- What you are being sent to is NOT what is happening.
- All calls are definitely more dangerous than they sound.
- The incident is really occurring where you plan to park.
An old instructor used to drill us and say, “You are enroute to a man armed with a knife.” He’d then ask what we were enroute to. We would say, “ A man with a rifle.”
If you approach every call with an officer safety mindset that everything is an unknown until you prove it otherwise, you will probably have a better day. And the information provided by dispatch will be put in proper perspective.
Randall is a twenty-three year sworn police officer in a mid-sized Florida police department. He has been an FTO, K9 Handler, Detective, and SWAT Team Leader. He is currently the Midnight Shift K9 Sergeant and department SWAT Coordinator.