Assuming the worst 1/29/11

On a recent evening, thirty minutes into my shift, I answered a 9-1-1 line.  A man is demanding to know why, after almost 25 minutes, a deputy has not yet responded to his call.  I look through the active calls, and find his, to see what the situation is.  I tell him that we are in shift change, and that a deputy had just been dispatched to his call.  He was very upset, saying that he didn’t understand why nobody had responded yet, when there was “a criminal” sitting in his driveway.  I had been trying to explain to him the reason for the delay, and asked him for an update to what was going on.  (Reading the call, and from speaking to him, it was clear he was calling about a man sitting in a car at the end of his driveway.)  I asked the caller what the emergency was (he’s called in on 9-1-1, remember) right now.  He repeated that there was “a criminal” sitting in a car in his driveway!  I asked him how he knew the man was a criminal.  He replied “I went out there and asked him what he was doing, and he said he didn’t want the police to see him!”  I asked him what he was doing ‘right now’ that was an emergency, and he became more irate, demanding to know where the deputy was.  I looked at my mapping monitor, and told him where the deputy was located right at that moment.  Well, that made him even MORE angry, since that location was at least 12 minutes away from his residence, and he had already been waiting almost thirty minutes.  He then demanded I connect him with the police department, of whose jurisdiction he lived just outside.  I told him they would not respond to something like this since it was not in the city, and that the deputy would be there in a few minutes.  He again demanded that I connect him to the police department.  I told him this was not an emergency, he was not in their jurisdiction, and that if he wanted to call the police department, he could do so on the seven digit non-emergency line.  He became more irate, and I ended the call.
A few minutes later, I got a call from that police department, asking me if we had a call at this person’s address.  I filled the police dispatcher in on what was going on, and told her that the deputy would be there shortly.  That dispatcher told me the man had called them, and was very rude and profane in his conversation with her.  So rude, in fact, that the police sergeant on duty was responding to see what was going on.  He arrived about the same time as our deputy.
After a few minutes the deputy cleared with the following disposition:
“A Spanish speaking gentleman had pulled off the road and legally parked, to make a phone call.”
Seems Mr. Irate had heard “don’t want the police to see me”, and rather than understand it meant he wanted to do the legal thing and not drive and talk on the phone at the same time, assumed it meant the driver was hiding from the police because he was “a criminal”.

Mr. Irate jumped to a conclusion based on little information, expected an emergency response to a non-emergency situation, and became hostile and profane with 9-1-1 operators.  All this because someone pulled off the road to make a phone call.  I wonder how Mr. Irate’s blood pressure is these days?

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