I laughed and told him "Only between donuts."
Officer came in to visit dispatch the other day. Officers visiting is something that happens every once in a while, but not daily. This particular officer isn't exactly salty, but he's not new either - in fact my very first ride along with the department was with this officer. He didn't know that we answered 911 calls...somehow.
I laughed and told him "Only between donuts."
Caller: "An officer is violating my civil rights!"
Dame: "How so, sir?"
C: "He told me to sit."
D: "It'll probably be smart to do as he says. Did he say why he wants you to sit?"
C: "Cause I'm too drunk to stand"
As most of you may know, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is celebrated annually during the second week of April. I happened to be on vacation for it this year (I know... *gasp* a vacation?!?), so I'm getting caught up on all the happenings from that week.
We get a huge signed posterboard from the officers. Some leave a little note for us, some just sign. We have this one newer officer who had a little bit of difficulty during FTO, and he wrote
"Thanks for fixing all my mistakes, covering my 6, and telling me what to do!"
So sweet. But let's see if he feels that way in 10 years.
I had an officer run a license plate of Vehicle 1 in a traffic collision. When giving back the return, I always give the same info, in the same order, slowing down for certain parts that the officer has to write down.
Repeat the plate/VIN - whichever was given
If it has wants
and so on, and so forth.
This one officer was being particularly jokey that day, so I gave him his return, and when it got to the R/O city - I put it out as "Straight Outta Compton."
He then made me spell it. Didn't have the same effect using phonetics...
We have this one officer - who is a friend of mine, so this story is out of love - who regularly forgets his call-sign.
Now, for my non-LEO readers, call signs are the identifiers used by each of the units. It's what we call for on the radio when we send them to calls, what they use to tell us who's talking. Some units (like specialty-type units) have permanent call-signs, but for the most part, patrol guys are either assigned or pick their beats - thus their coinciding call sign - at the beginning of the shift in briefing. So if you like switching it up and working different beats, or are low on seniority, your call sign can change every day. And in this job, the days end up just running all together. It can be hard to remember what day it is.
So Officer Forgetful is working a line beat one day, and keeps identifying himself incorrectly. The first couple times, he catches himself and corrects. But then he gets a hot call, and that just goes out the window. He's every call sign that we have with each new transmission. Like I said, we are friends, so I know his voice pretty well. Every time he identifies incorrectly, I copy him back with his correct call sign, hoping that he'll pick up on the subtle reminder... but he doesn't.
After everything calms down, I send him a message to his MDC (the computer in their patrol vehicles), telling him that he keeps ID'ing wrong, and it's making my job tougher, so if he could kindly knock it off, I'd appreciate it. He sends back his apologies (which was very nice), and says that he won't do it again.
The next day, he goes on a stop with a habitual in a notoriously bad radio spot, and stops answering radio traffic. We call his cell, and no answer. So we drop a tone, and ask his status again. Nothing. So we roll beat partners his way, get the sergeant notified, et cetera et cetera. Air on a clearance until we hear a "Code 4" from him. He calls in to the person who was calling and texting his cell, with a simple "Hey - what's up? So who is the tone for? What do they have?"
He did it again. He forgot his call sign. He heard dispatch the whole time, he just thought the tone and calvary were all for someone else not answering.
For his exact location. His exact 10-20!
The next time he came into the communications center, I gave him a sharpie and told him that he should start writing his beat assignments on his hand so he can remember who he is.
Every year, we are given the option to go on a ride-along with one of the beat units. I know how much the guys LOVE having a ride-along (they hate it), and amp up that love with it being a dispatch ride-along (they super hate it) - but I like it, so too bad.
They make the guys come do a "sit-along" in dispatch once in their careers - fresh out of the academy, before they ever hit they field. Which is better than never, but they are still so green that they don't know or really understand any of what we are doing. Every question is answered with a "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" and they never look you in the eye. They don't ask questions, are fidgety sitting down for so long, and don't retain a single bit of it.
I - for one - am glad that dispatch ride-alongs with patrol are encouraged by the department. It gives me a better understanding of a lot of things that get forgotten over time - timing on calls (like a reminder of how long a felony stop really takes - forever), where the bad radio spots are, what dispatch sounds like on the other side, all the good 10-7 spots, to meet the "regulars" that they always deal with on their beat, everything. It's also a nice time to put some names to faces, and figure out what I can do to make it a little easier for the both of us on a daily basis. I work in a metro area, so there's many different areas that we cover. I would love if they let us go on ride-alongs one in each area a year, but that's overkill - they say.
But I'm still "new" and not many others feel the same way.
Plus, who doesn't want to have the experience of rolling code 3 somewhere, or what a traffic break feels like?
A twenty-something dispatcher taking 911 calls, yapping on the radio, and dealing with the general public - with a mad case of headset hair. Not quite so jaded yet, but not naive as I once was. Losing my soul one call at a time.