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by Peter Moskos

October 25, 2009

Why 911 is a Joke

I love any story about how f*cked up 911 is. This one at Pepper Spray Me is a good one.

And here he reminds you why grammar is important.


Anonymous said...

First, and most importantly, stuff like this would not happen if the rest of the country followed Baltimore's lead and established / publicized 311 for non-emergency police. If Pepper Spray's jurisdiction doesn't have that, then Pepper Spray ought to write the authorities that be about that problem instead of making snarky comments in a blog. Just a thought.

Second, there can be criminal liability for unsafe conditions in a place of public accommodation, at least at the federal level. It seems reasonable to ask the local police if unsafe premises are a criminal matter in ones jurisdiction. The fact that it was an unmarked glass door here might be pushing it slightly,but: (i) people have died from walking through them; (ii) in the glass door design business (and, yes, I have had the pleasure of working with some folks in this field) it is recognized that you take measures to visually mark a glass door for just this reason.

Third, the guy probably wasn't calling to get a report. What, you ask? He was probably calling so that when the insurance company said that he needed a police report, then he could truthfully say to the insurance co. that he tried to get a police report and the police would not oblige. Does that sound crazy? Welcome to the wacky world of dealing with insurance companies.

PCM said...

But this does happen in Baltimore.

If an officer gets a call it doesn't matter what number was dialed. From a patrol officer's perspective, there's no difference between 911 and 311.

Every cop gets calls from non-injured people wanting a report so they can sue.

I once got a call for a hit-and-run with injuries. I show up. No major injuries. I ask for the description of the other vehicle and get it and put that out.

Then I notice not only are there no major injuries, there don't seem to be any minor injuries (just some vague complaints about back and neck pain). Plus there's barely a scratch on the van. It's not even dented.

And yet there are about 12 passengers in the van yelling at me for a report.

Now I'm confused. So I get the driver out of the van to talk to him. He says there was barely any impact. But he and the other driver politely exchanged information. There was no hit and run. He never called the police.

The van was taking a van-load of people to drug rehab.


You, dear anonymous reader, do not know the ways of the ghetto.

I canceled the report of the hit and run.

This was not a police matter. I did not take a police report. It was a waste of police time.

One of the passengers called the police.

Too many people see those lawyer adds on TV. The difference is some people actually think it's a way to get easy money. The sad part is sometimes it is.

Anonymous said...

I am not trying to say when police need to take reports, or that they should make more reports than they do.

I am just saying that 311 is an excellent idea because there should be a clear, easily memorable number to get in touch with police for non-emergencies, even if it is something as simple as "is this the kind of thing you take a report for." If police are implementing 311 so that the calls go to the same place as 911, then the police are acting stupidly. Put the calls in a voice mail and promise to get back in 2 hours (and then do get back). It ain't rocket science.

The problem is NOT that the kid tried to see if he could get a report for his mishap.

The problem is NOT that the police refuse to do reports for that kind of situation.

The problem is that the system is set up so that ends up as a 911 call. That is the police's problem, not the kid's. Even if Pepper Spray can't do anything about the problem, he should at least put the blame where it belongs -- which is to say: on his own department.

PCM said...

I like 311 for city issues that have nothing to do with police. Or even when it might be a police matter, but can be handled over the phone.

But it's not like cops are sitting there with a red and black phone for emergency and non-emergency calls.

If a guy says he want a cop, a cop will inevitably be sent to the location. Every call goes through an operator and then a dispatcher. It's their job to triage calls. But when a cop gets a call, he gets a call. It doesn't matter what number was called.

Anonymous said...

If a guy says he want a cop, a cop will inevitably be sent to the location.


(i) that is another stupid policy if and where it exists; and (ii) obviously it doesn't work that way where Pepper Spray is bcs he refused to go to the location.