Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dispatch blues

Lucky me...due to a serious shortage of dispatchers recently, I've been blessed with the opportunity to pick up some serious overtime working off the street in our communications center.

However, it has not been without it's frustrations, some from idiots who call in asking for help, and some from idiots in uniform who should know better.

So, just to get everyone back on the same page:

1. Citizens. When you call 911, it is an EMERGENCY center you have called. Give me the nature of your call--keep it brief--and make sure that it's something we can do something about. DO NOT call to whine about:
a. People who are "recklessly" passing you after you set your cruise control right at the speed limit. (Aside from bothering me, you're driving like an ass. Sell your car and take the bus.)
b. Deer on the road. We all know deer cross the road. It's just one of those things. Don't call and tell me about the deer that you almost hit, or ask why we do not have more "deer crossing" signs up. Trust me, the deer won't cross there no matter how many we put up.
c. The guy who cut you off a few minutes ago, especially if you didn't get a license number and he got off at the last exit. WTF are we supposed to do about that? You probably deserved to be cut off because you were driving like caller a.

2. Citizens. When you call in, if you do not know where you are, do not get mad at me because I keep asking you to figure it out. I cannot send anyone to help you if I do not know where you are. I cannot magically divine your location, and it's really important. So if I ask you to go find a street sign or something else that will clue us both in, don't get all pissy with me. I know where I am.

3. Officers. If another officer has just asked me to check a tag and I acknowledge him or her, your silly-assed query really needs to wait fifteen seconds until I give him or her their return. If you are in a chase or a gunfight, fine. But if you just want to announce that you've checked a "special attention" location and found nothing wrong, or if you want your own tag checked, just wait. The real dispatchers may be able to handle you tag-teaming them, but I'm not there yet and I know who you are. This bullshit where the radio is totally silent for twenty minutes and then suddenly eight people have traffic all at once needs to quit.

4. Officers. When I call you several times because you do not answer up (because you weren't paying attention), don't get snide with me. You only have one real job: answering the radio. I do it when I'm out there and you can do it. And to be honest, some of you have this problem a lot more than others. You know who you are; so does everyone else. (And yes, CM, I mean you in particular.)

5. Unnamed neighboring jurisdiction: STOP TRANSFERRING ALL OF YOUR DAMNED CALLS TO US! Your calls are yours, and turfing callers off on us isn't going to make us take them; it's just going to get the callers and--us--pissed off, resulting in hurt feelings when I transfer the call back with the polite suggestion that you learn your geography and pull your own calls.

That's all for now.


Kelly Christine said...

as a dispatcher, and as a dispatcher at a center that never ever ever has officers attempt our job, i want to give this post a hearty, AMEN. i know that i could never do your job and i give u all the credit that is due, but i can't tell u how nice it is to hear this rant from an officer.
sorry u r stuck in dispatch but for my reading pleasure i hope u r there for a bit :)

911 and the Randomness.. said...

That's so freaking awesome, and so freaking true!! Thanks for making me smile!

Officer Krupke said...

Sorry Kelly,

I'm only here for overtime, and only until they get the new dispatchers that they are hiring all cleared and trained.

But I do think that every new officer should spend a few shifts up here to see what it's like, and every dispatcher should also ride with the officers for a few shifts so that they understand our world.

Mr. 618 said...

You have hit the nail right on the head. Back when I was on (20+ years ago), dispatch was where you were sent if you were a bad boy (and, yes, most cops in those days were male). These days, however, dispatchers have tons and tons of specialized training, and should be -- and IS -- a separate profession. Today's dispatchers can talk callers through childbirth, CPR, choking, and other life-saving techniques till EMS can get there, in addition to saving OUR asses by checking to make sure we're okay when we forget to clear from a call.

A good dispatcher is worth his/her weight in whatever today's most precious commodity is.

And your suggestion for "ride-alongs" on both jobs is a great idea. Which means no government will ever do it.

Jay911 said...

Oh man, as a dispatcher who's also a volunteer firefighter, I can relate to the lion's share of this post. One that we're having particular issues with this weekend with blizzard conditions is, if you see a semi rolled over in the ditch with a foot of snow on the top of it, six fluorescent orange traffic cones alongside, and 150 feet of bright yellow caution tape wrapped around the whole mess, consider that possibly the emergency services might just have checked it out already!

Illinois Guy said...

+1 to this post! Same stuff happens with us, I guess it's common across the board! As for your suggestion for officers/dispatchers to shadow is a great thing and unfortunately our agencies do not think it's that big of a deal, but the Sheriff did sit in for 4 hours and of course his deputies were as quiet and proper as could be, who would have thought!

Anonymous said...

This is why I stay on the streets. A few times, when it was real busy I'd go in and answer calls and cancel calls for service.