911 police officer refuses to help girl who calls about her dying father because she said the F word before the call was answered

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106 Responses to “911 police officer refuses to help girl who calls about her dying father because she said the F word before the call was answered”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care how many commendations this officer has. Commendations mean nothing in the face of actually contributing to the death of an individual. If he’d had a gun and shot the girl’s father, his commendations wouldn’t be a factor. He’s lucky the patient survived, but he should lose his job and he should be held personally financially responsible for what I hope will be a huge settlement for this family. There are few things in life that should be reliable every time it is used, and 911 emergency response is one of those things.

  2. tizroc says:

    RevengeofPomPom,

    I thought you could sue for punitive damages if you were falsely arrested. In my quick study on answers.com and subsiquest online law search brought this up.

    “…An action can be instituted for the damages ensuing from false arrest, such as loss of salary while imprisoned, or injury to reputation that results in a pecuniary loss to the victim. Ill will and malice are not elements of the tort, but if these factors are proven, punitive damages can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages or nominal damages.”

    So it appears you can, however it must be done only after the first factors are met. Please note I am not saying she can in this case, because I am not a lawyer. I am only showing the possibility is there.

    Now on the side, and my opinion it would seem that the court and public outcry is the only recourse her family has available. No matter what personal reason the officer had (with that background he must have brought personal issues to work, which is a huge no-no!) his actions could have caused serious issues. He should have faced criminal charges, but he DID end up sending support (so he will get through by the skin of his teeth). It is up to the people of the township to persue the issue to the full authority they have to pressure the department to either fire him, or push him into early retirement. They can hold further tax support and other recourses over the department and force their hands.

  3. Kev says:

    She called 911 which in this town is patched into the local police dispatch where Douchey McNegligence was “on duty” or more likely on the can.

    Deejayqueue, are you by chance a Lileks fan? “Douchey McNegligence” sounds like a nickname for one of the perps in the Lance Lawson mysteries on buzz.mn.

    And yes, the cop should have been canned immediately for that little stunt.

  4. Lady Strathconn says:

    I think the one bright side is that her father didn’t die.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This event is known as a justifiable outburst.

    This “Officer” for whatever reason no-longer had the ability appropriate the amount of response to the proper incident. That is to, when an officer comes upon an event he immediately begins triage-What needs to be done NOW?- this officer did not do that and especially when dealing with something so critical, you cannot just not take issue with something that irks you.

    As to what was going on, he broke. After 30+ years on the force, his mind just couldnt take it anymore. The problem is, 2 weeks wont fix it. When you break, thats about it.

    One major flaw here though is that theres seems to have been only one operator. Where were the rest? Any city of any sorts needs at least 2-or more likely 4, unless its the size and technological equivilant of Mayberry-They do still exist and they are that creepy.

    Now I dont know enough about it but I’m just guestimating logistics and possibillities. At any rate there should have been someone else in the room.

    She cussed, he broke, everybody is still alive.
    Watch the father in future. Get the girl a lawyer. Get the officer a pension plan that includes psychiatric. Make the 911 room occupancy minimum 3.

    Follow through and get over it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    not only should he be fired but he should be charged.
    reckless endangerment sounds about right.
    and that’s not even getting into the false arrest.

  7. zuzu says:

    Wasn’t this the Dave Chappelle joke about “Who calls 911 calm and relaxed?”

  8. DanC says:

    I think it’s significant that this was a cop and not an emergency operator. He probably had no real training. No excuse, but still.

  9. vettekaas says:

    @Nixar

    ‘«The world is full of idiots, and here we have two of them.»

    Yeah, there’s nothing here that would excuse that girl from not being completely 100% totally rational. It’s not like she could think her father was dying. Oh wait.’

    I believe the reference to the girl being an idiot wasn’t about her conduct during the phone call, but the conduct of her and her family afterwards (asking for $$$).

  10. Anonymous says:

    Geez, I know some professional 911 operators, and ran a non-emergency help desk myself. If I would have hung up on someone distraught even once, I would have been fired on the spot. Here a seizure victim is in distress and possibly dying. How did a 20-year veteran get on this desk? My guess is that when her attorneys do pre-trial discovery, they will find multiple offenses over the years in their personnel folder.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How about instead of filthy mouth we say “distraught”. Wouldn’t one think an expletive during a 911 call is a sign of an upset person in need of assistance instead of some haughty, filthy-mouthed girl. To think we put our lives in the hands of such people.

    Don’t worry, the government will save you.

  12. deejayqueue says:

    Ok, first and foremost, the news crews got it wrong.

    The sound of the phone dialing and the ring tone are inserted sounds. Unless your phone is 100% tapped and rolling 100% of the time there is simply no way to record a call that hasn’t been placed yet. Listen to the beeps, there are WAY too many to be 9-1-1 and they aren’t even standard touchtone beeps.

    What happened is most likely this:
    She called 911 which in this town is patched into the local police dispatch where Douchey McNegligence was “on duty” or more likely on the can. When nothing happens and nobody picks up she hangs up and calls again. This time Douchey picks up the phone but she’s distracted for a split second (by her possibly dying father, seizing on the floor) and thinks it’s still ringing. Maybe he picks up during that pause between rings? So she’s like “WTF?” only he’s picked up and hears it.

    From there it’s all downhill.

  13. Anonymous says:

    He only gets suspended?!?!

    I work in a call center and in our standard, he won’t be suspended.It doesn’t matter how many awards and commendations he’s received. He’d be fired right on the spot and sued as hell!!! He hung up three times, he interrupted her many times, he quickly denied her an ambulance when HE DIDN’T EVEN ASK WHY SHE’S CALLING OR WHY SHE NEEDS AN AMBULANCE (AND COMMON SENSE, IF PEOPLE SAY THEY NEED AN AMBULANCE, IT ALREADY MEANS IT’S AN EMERGENCY SO HE SHOULD HAVE JUST SKIPPED THE ARGUMENT AND SENT HER AN AMBULANCE), and he even called her A STUPID ASS, A BUFFOON, A FILTHY-MOUTHED GIRL!!! Let’s not forget, she got arrested!!!

    Since he’s a 911 operator, the first thing that he should be well trained at is listening to clues or cues like speed, tone of voice, etc. He should have known how swearing is definitely a clue to how grave the caller’s situation is!!!

    He’s lucky her dad didn’t die or else he’s in a even bigger problem!!!

    One question though, IS HE THE ONLY OPERATOR THERE?

  14. invisibelle says:

    I wonder if, being near Detroit, this city is a high-crime area? I’ve noticed that most of the complaints I hear about 911 tend to be regarding dispatchers who work in rough parts of town, as if maybe they just get worn down by call volume and the lack of social graces among the folks who call.

    That’s just my theory. I have a friend whose both mother- and father-in-law died when their vehicle sank into a river, because 911 hung up on them multiple times (it apparently sank slowly, which is horrifying), because they weren’t speaking intelligible-enough English. (They were Korean immigrants.) I keep telling myself that it happened because the operators were working in a rough part of town, East Dallas, and had too much to deal with.

    Still not that comforting, though. Regardless of stress, desensitization, whatever, 911 operators should not be hanging up on people unless they’re VERY sure it’s a prank call.

  15. Takuan says:

    “Any time spent talking after that is about them getting details to be passed on to the emergency team while they’re in transit, or to give you advice to get you or someone else out of danger. Or just to calm you down.”

    Nope, any excuse you give to help them downgrade your emergency will be exploited. Because it saves money.

  16. TJ S says:

    If you were to create a list of “appropriate times to swear”, it’s going to contain almost 100% of the things on a list of “times to call 911″.

    That should be one of the first things that Emergency line operators are trained to deal with, and should respond by attempting to calm down the (rightly) stressed person on the other end. (I’m not knocking other 911 operators, and I’ve no doubt that this particular one is just a bad apple.)

  17. Ratdog says:

    Well,

    Somebody just got their career ruined.

    You would think he would be used to freaked out people swearing.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have no problems with the girl’s actions. She should sue. The cop’s conduct was reprehensible and could easily have cost lives. He’ll be placed on two week upnpaid suspension? Big deal. Whats next, the investigation clearing him of any wrongdoing?
    Lawsuits are the public’s only recourse in these situations. Insult to injury; She was falsely arrested. There should be consequences.
    Serious ones.

  19. editjunk says:

    There was a similar situation in Australia recently where a kid who was lost in the bush had become very disoriented & was unable to articulate his situation effectively to the emergency services operator, who hung up on him several times. The kid died.

    On another point, the quality of journalism in that report was excessively low. Is this what passes for reporting these days? That was some skewed & objectionable subjective shit the reporter was coming up with.

  20. Tgg161 says:

    @TJ. There’s a Venn diagram in there somewhere.

  21. madsci says:

    #18 – That is most certainly not the way to get a speedy, appropriate response from 911. Do your best to stay calm, explain clearly what’s going on, and answer their questions.

    Most of these people are not idiots like the operator in the story. I had to call 911 about a week ago when I was in a car accident. Despite being totally pumped full of adrenaline I managed to get most of the important stuff out – I’vebeeninacaraccidentI’matsantamariawayandhollyoaklaneI’mnothurtbutIcan’tgettotheotherdriver… the operator did an admirable job of sorting all of that out, asked a few other relevant questions, and got help there within a few minutes.

    Same story just about every other time; the operator asked for all of the information I should have given in the first place but was too shaken up to think about, e.g., “no, there are no hazmat markings on the overturned truck, looks like a reefer, and it’s not blocking the lane.”

    The one exception would be the time I couldn’t get through to 911 for an injury accident that happened right in front of me at the grocery store. That time I may well have been swearing at the busy signal I kept getting on my phone, and like the caller in the story I’d probably have been swearing if it kept ringing without being picked up.

    The real problem that time was that the woman in the gathering crowd (the only other one trying to help) who did get through didn’t communicate clearly that it was an injury accident and we were there for 10 or 15 minutes (a mile from the hospital and about that far from the police station) before a single traffic cop showed up. Once he got there and called it in properly, a medic unit was there within 3 minutes. In the meantime I got to put my rusty EMT skills to work assessing the driver who was too drunk to tell if he was seriously hurt, and trying to get the bleeding non-drunk driver to calm down and stay put, while trying to get the owner of the parked car that the drunk guy knocked the other guy into to stop badgering everyone for insurance information. Good times.

  22. RevengeofPomPom says:

    #75, Tizroc,
    On the off chance you are still reading this thread and because, as a lawyer, I cannot help myself but clear up people’s misunderstandings about the law:

    A person can’t sue a municipality of other government entity for punitive damages, unless there is a statute that expressly allows for it. This rule is laid out in the Supreme Court case City of Newport v. Fact Concerts, Inc., 453 US 247 (1981). So, in other words, there would have to be a Michigan statute that says “a person can recover punitive damages against a city for violations of that person’s rights,” or something to that effect. I’m not sure what you’ve quoted up there, but it’s probably talking about suing the individual officer (i.e., if you sued him and won, he’d pay you out of pocket, not from city funds). Like I said above, a person can sue a municipality or other government entity (like a police department or sheriffs’ department) for compensatory, not punative, damages. Without getting way into the details of it, succeeding in even that is usually hard. Typically, you’d have to show that the person at the top had some role in the officer’s misconduct, for example, that they failed to train their police officers, or knew that police officers were doing illegal things and failed to stop them, or had some kind of policy (like, “when you pick up a 911 call, feel free to do whatever you want”). So as a general rule, it’s usually pretty challenging to get the city on the hook for misconduct by any individual officer.

    I’m just speaking totally in generalities here and truly have no opinion as to whether this girl or her family could succeed in a lawsuit. I’m just trying to clear up how damages work.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I’d bet that New York 911 operators will hang up on you if you don’t drop an f-bomb or equivalent. Because it’s not a real emergency without a few bad words.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This guy is a complete moron! Who the hell is offended who is offended by someone that was swearing over the fact that her father is having a seizer! and further more he answers 911 calls he should be able to handle these kind of situations. And how he is not fired i will never know, whom ever made the decision to only suspend him should be fired along with him. And further more if he’s SO offended by the fact that she said “fuck” then why did he feel that he had the right to say it to her?

  25. Nelson.C says:

    Well, fuck, if you can’t swear during an emergency, when can you do it?

  26. Bitgod says:

    The operator is a moron. I deal with people over the phone for a living, and I don’t have a cow if they swear. The main place to start at is, are they just swearing or swearing at me? If it’s at me, I’ll give them a warning and if they continue, I’ll disconnect them. But if it’s just general swearing, I just ignore it unless I think it’s very excessive, then I’ll mention it.

  27. abe lugo says:

    FCC will end up fining her also for transmitting foul language.

    But really, sometimes swear words are a “trigger” of sorts to some of the people with imaginary authority.

  28. mgfarrelly says:

    A friend of mine had a seizure (no history of them either) while we were in a far suburb. She was driving and I didn’t know the area. I was 21 freaking out after having just grabbed the wheel and shoved her aside to hit the brake.

    I called 911 and was swearing and screaming and freaking out. The cop was cool, calm and professional. She stayed on the phone until the ambulance found us and she made sure I was calm too. I swore, ALOT, and before I hung up I apologized. She laughed and said “Hey, that’s why they pay me the big bucks babe. I hope you and your friend are ok.”

    That’s how you do it.

  29. ZippySpincycle says:

    Unable to watch the video but it appears that the incident occurred last fall: http://www.wxyz.com/content/news/investigators/story/WILSON-Emergency-Aid-Delayed/8UXeuN7eFkytW0KGC5IDKg.cspx Also, it appears that this is Lincoln Park MICHIGAN, as the TV station is in Detroit.

    Absolutely disgusting; so far, haven’t found anty follow-up reporting on the fallout, if any.

  30. gredux says:

    I believe that is actually Lincoln Park,Michigan, downriver of Detroit.

    The reporter is Steve Wilson a great investigative reporter that was a thorn in Kwame Kilpatricks side for a long time.

  31. Anonymous says:

    MI not CA

  32. Anonymous says:

    #39: If my medical situation was worse because of misconduct and the responsible party got 2 weeks vacation in response, I’d want to make them pay too.

  33. Shelby Davis says:

    Disgusting. Swearing does act as a trigger for a lot of people, though.

    But if someone around me falls down having a seizure, and if I get disconnected the first time around, I’m not going to start my next conversation with a “I’m going to report you to your manager/sue!” line. Seriously, she thought her dad was dying? Deal with your dad dying. Harangue later.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Years ago I was working the late shift when a fellow employee came running in telling me a trash bin was on fire. I called 911 and calmly told them the address the type of fire. Then I walked over the to the alley and closed the lids on the bin.

    Good thing too. Thirty minutes or so later a black and white rolls up and the ossifer starts asking me about it. I showed him the bin and he finally called the Fire Department.

    Afterward I asked the fire captain why they didn’t respond quicker. He told me the 911 operator didn’t believe I was serious because I was too calm.

    I guess it really is damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

  35. Anonymous says:

    “I wonder if, being near Detroit, this city is a high-crime area?”

    I grew up in a city next to this one, Southgate, Mi, and I can tell you Lincoln Park is not a high crime area at all. This is your normal, majority white suburb of Detroit. Sadly, this cop is a normal suburban cop around here – gods help us. The police unions around here are hard core. He’s going to have to do this again to get fired.

    Here, check out Lincoln Park – http://www.lincolnpark.govoffice.com/

  36. nicheplayer says:

    My dad says that custodians always have dirty homes. Why? Because they spend their days cleaning up after people and want a fucking break when they get home. One wonders how the operator and cop in this story comport themselves off duty, seeing how they can’t even manage to do their jobs when they’re on the clock.

  37. Ratdog says:

    Reminds me of a Failblog I saw a while ago. It’s a recording of a person calling in saying someone is in their house steeling stuff, and she gets no reply, until she hears the operator snoring.

  38. Pseudothink says:

    lol, nice #4, and to the moderator too (for not disemvoweling)…

  39. eustace says:

    Ratdog at #2, I would not predict that result. In any society that employs cops, the Crime Most Certain To Get You Locked Up is always Dissing A Cop. If police departments fired cops for enforcing that law, their ranks would dwindle faster than recruitment could replace them.

  40. Anonymous says:

    What the fuck?!

  41. Man On Pink Corner says:

    #63

    Listen to the beeps, there are WAY too many to be 9-1-1 and they aren’t even standard touchtone beeps.

    #69

    What you’re hearing is 911 CAMA signaling, which is a modified version of MF R1 over E&M Wink. What happens is you seize the trunk, wait for the wink, and send KP+911+ST. You get a second wink, and then send KP+7D telephone number of originating caller+ST. What you’re hearing is a recording of the call after the second wink. This is done on the trunk side of the answering point’s 911 station. At this point it’s already passed through a selective router which steered the call to Lincoln Park’s PSAP (FCC PSAP ID 3445, ESN 00224 on the ANARMIMNDS0 selective router, 313 NPA). The digits are being read by the PSAP’s answering desk software, which then does a ANI/ALI dip using the data via a dedicated data link. Then the data pops up on the screen.

    Ouch

  42. Funky16Corners says:

    >>They’re absolutely right to sue. I hope the amount really HURTS. Maybe the taxpayers should get up in arms about bad cops doing things the town can get sued for, instead of resisting the lawsuits themselves.<<

    Exactly.

  43. angryhippo says:

    Maybe that delicate flower is in the wrong line of work.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Seems like a critical fact here is that the teenage girl was NOT cursing at the 911 operator; she was cursing to herself about what sounded to her like a ringing phone going unanswered. It’s bad enough that the operator would hang up on someone who’s justifiably scared and upset, but to do it to someone who doesn’t even know anyone can hear her is just unforgivable.

  45. Ratdog says:

    @12 Eustace

    I understand and agree with what you said. However, I think the reason his career would be ruined is that the public news got wind of it. Once they show the ugly side of someone, that person is usually ruined. There will be pressure from the community to do something. And then the cop will be known as “that cop from channel 7 news who refused to help that girl while she was freaking out and swearing because she thought her dad was going to die”. Public News can give the touch of death. And he was a recipient.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Does that mean that all phone calls are recorded by the phone company? That’s a little concerning

    emergency calls are recorded.

    The sound of the phone dialing and the ring tone are inserted sounds. Unless your phone is 100% tapped and rolling 100% of the time there is simply no way to record a call that hasn’t been placed yet.

    Nice conspiracy theory, but emergency calls are recorded from the get-go.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had my problems with police in my own right over the years and then one day I truly needed their help. I called 911 and said “Please help me, I’m being chased by a group of men who are trying to kill me, I’m at…. (interrupted by operator)… Sir how do you know they are trying to kill you?”. I was so stunned at the thought that I would be questioned as to the validity of what I was saying that I paused for a second trying to regroup my thoughts, and from that moment out the operator refused to believe my claims and said they could get an officer to me in around an hour. Two truckers that happened by saved me from if not death then at least a horribly severe beating. Through all my experiences with the police system in the States I’m left with one resounding thought, they aren’t here to help us, they are here to make money off us and work out some deep seeded emotional problems.

  48. Anonymous says:

    #14: The hammer can fall harshly on some, but it beats letting those in authority run without any accountability.

  49. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    If you lived in Lincoln Park you’d swear your head off all Godsdamn day.

  50. knoxvillegirl says:

    0. Using profanity to a cop is 100% legal (unless you are threatening bodily harm in which case the threat is actionable but not the swearing).

    1. We have a cop of 20 years, lots of commendations, no reprimands on his record… and he’s taking 911 calls? Not to put down the dispatcher’s job but if you haven’t made it further up the chain of command in 20 years you are most likely bad police.

  51. guernican says:

    “I learned all this over the years calling in various emergencies and observing how the operators used any opening to either delay or complicate things.”

    Jesus wept. How many emergencies have you been involved with?

    Living with you must be like seeing Hercule Poirot turn up at your resort hotel. Run! Run for your lives!

  52. Anonymous says:

    I love that this meathead thinks his swearing over a rude caller is appropriate, but her swearing over a possibly dying father is not. What a moron. He is in the wrong job, and he clearly hates people.

  53. angryhippo says:

    #14- His career is ruined because he failed to do his job. The publicity just sped up to that resolution. If it didn’t happen then he most likely would have done it to someone else. Cussing during an emergency is to be expected.

  54. nosehat says:

    @92: Living with you must be like seeing Hercule Poirot turn up at your resort hotel. Run! Run for your lives!

    LOL. Or even worse, the Mystery Mobile! Those Scooby Doo guys just had to drive anywhere, and the universe at large would present them with a puzzle, usually involving a rubber mask or three. I have always envied those Scooby Doo guys!

  55. Tylith says:

    @10

    She didn’t threaten to sue him after she didn’t get through once. She said a cuss word after she didn’t get through TWICE! She threatened to sue after she got HUNG UP ON. I can’t believe a 911 operator would hang up on someone REPEATED times no matter HOW irrational that person is being! Disgusting!

  56. EH says:

    This is the exact reason shaming and banishment were invented.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I think this guy is one of those people with some kind of a power trip. I’ve had jobs where people annoyed me on the phone and I stopped going out of my way to be helpful. They say you get more bees with sugar or something like that. But in this kind of job, people need to leave their egos at the door.

  58. Takuan says:

    how to handle 911 calls:
    fire: as soon as they answer, scream fire! fire! and the address at the top of your lungs. Repeat as many times as you can, don’t even acknowledge anything the operator says, just repeat fire! and the address. All you want is a firetruck and you want it now.
    ambulance: scream “ambulance”! and the address. Say something like, “I think he’s dying!” Again, acknowledge nothing, just repeat the address and ” I think he’s dying!”
    police: same thing: key words “police”, the address, and possibly “I think I saw a gun!”.

    The idea is to create a paper trail they can’t deny with recordings that contain the critical information and nothing else. Never give your name and never supply extra information. Never engage the operator in conversation or even acknowledge them. Put the ball entirely in their court; which is to get the requisite crew and vehicle to where you want it NOW. Don’t give them any ammunition to downgrade your call to “ignore” status.

    The 911 operator is NOT your friend. At best they are doing a boring job for a wage, at worst they are power tripping little freaks that want to use your emergency as a chance to demonstrate their “training”.

    I learned all this over the years calling in various emergencies and observing how the operators used any opening to either delay or complicate things. You KNOW it’s a damned emergency, convey that , hang up and get on with dealing with it. Or leave the phone off the hook and let them strain to hear. Just don’t let them make it THEIR drama.

  59. RevengeofPomPom says:

    #29:
    “The world is full of idiots, and here we have two of them. What’s frustrating about this story is that, first, the police officer abused his power; second, no explanation is forthcoming as to why, and third, now the girl and her family are going to extract punitive damages from the town, which will cost everybody a lot of money in increased insurance premiums.”

    You can’t sue a state, munipality, etc. for punitive damages. She could sue the city for compensatory damages, and then possibly the officer in his individual capacity for punitive damages. So you don’t need to get so worked up about the tax implications (!) of some poor guy seizing on his floor while a police officer chooses not to do his job.

  60. optuser says:

    This seems similar to an incident awhile ago, somewhere up in CT/VT/RI where a guy wrecked his cycle and called 911. The dispatcher (I think it was just a regular officer) accused him of making a fake call. The accident victim later died.

    The setup to the story was that the regular operator/dispatcher was busy or unavailable to take call and the call was routed to a local desk. Basically, “B Team” answers the phone and was too lazy/unprofessional to figure out what is going on.

    Good for her to go to the news with this and kudos to the local chief for confessing his department’s failure. Keep the 20-year veterans off your front lines – too much ego to deal with harried/desperate/cursing PAYING customers. Only have people who have been TRAINED to pick up a phone in a potential life/death situation answer a call.

    To all you 911 operators out there: thank you for the work you do.

  61. Anonymous says:

    The main issue’s well covered in the comments already, but something else I noticed: they have a recording of her dialling.

    Does that mean that all phone calls are recorded by the phone company? That’s a little concerning (though I live in the UK, it makes me wonder if it happens here too).

  62. Anonymous says:

    #63, save your authoritative tone for when you know what you’re talking about.

    What you’re hearing is 911 CAMA signaling, which is a modified version of MF R1 over E&M Wink.

    What happens is you sieze the trunk, wait for the wink, and send KP+911+ST. You get a second wink, and then send KP+7D telephone number of originating caller+ST. What you’re hearing is a recording of the call after the second wink. This is done on the trunk side of the answering point’s 911 station. At this point it’s already passed through a selective router which steered the call to Lincoln Park’s PSAP (FCC PSAP ID 3445, ESN 00224 on the ANARMIMNDS0 selective router, 313 NPA). The digits are being read by the PSAP’s answering desk software, which then does a ANI/ALI dip using the data via a dedicated data link. Then the data pops up on the screen. The PSAP is sending the ringback, because it’s a trunk, and the far end rings the party typically, so they can MOST DEFINITELY record audio before the call is answered.

    I’ve heard this sort of stuff in progress, because I run the network of a competitive phone company that serves that area, among others, and have customers in Lincoln Park (although that customer wasn’t my customer, fortunately)

  63. Anonymous says:

    This has happened BEFORE in Michigan!!!!!!

    NATIONAL BRIEFING | MIDWEST; Michigan: 911 Operator Convicted
    BuzzPermalinkBy AP
    Published: January 19, 2008
    A Detroit jury convicted a 911 operator of willful neglect of duty after the authorities said she did not take seriously a boy’s calls to report that his mother had collapsed. The misdemeanor charge against the operator, Sharon Nichols, is punishable by up to a year in jail. She will be sentenced March 11. Ms. Nichols, 45, testified that she could not hear the boy on the other end of the line. The authorities said the boy, Robert Turner, now 7, called 911 twice on Feb. 20, 2006, to report that his mother had passed out. Robert testified that Ms. Nichols accused him of playing games and hung up on him. The police found Robert’s mother, Sherrill Turner, 46, dead three hours after the first call. Charges were dismissed against another operator, Terri Sutton, who took the boy’s second call.

    SCARY!

  64. j2jpop says:

    @shelby davis

    “But if someone around me falls down having a seizure, and if I get disconnected the first time around, I’m not going to start my next conversation with a “I’m going to report you to your manager/sue!” line. Seriously, she thought her dad was dying? Deal with your dad dying. Harangue later.”

    He kept hanging up on her. You would think that a legal threat would help her get him to actually listen.

  65. Anonymous says:

    I worked for 9-1-1 for seven years, and I used to train new dispatchers. The first thing I told them was that we were in the business of handling other people’s emergencies, and we needed to remember that people’s behavior in an emergency is sometimes a little frenzied. But we (9-1-1) were not having an emergency, we were having a normal day at work. So my behavior on a telephone call would be held to a much higher standard than that of my caller.

    What was really difficult was conveying to the newbies that our frequent fliers (the people whose voices I could recognize because they called all the time) were just as entitled to a courteous and prompt response as any other citizen. Generally speaking, these were people with mental health or addiction issues, and they could be pretty unpleasant. But that also made them among the most vulnerable people we dealt with, so a call from one of our regulars should be just as important as the mayor’s call saying the same thing. (Honestly, you get a call from an addict asking for a cop, it’s likely he genuinely needs one.)

    Big cities tend to partially staff dispatch or calltaker desks with officers on suspension from active duty for misconduct or health reasons. It’s a real mistake–cops aren’t trained to do the same work, their hearing is often compromised (all those sirens), and making it punishment duty means that the officer is already resentful and pissed off, both bad bad bad characteristics in an emergency operator.

  66. Anonymous says:

    He’s received commendation and positive performance reviews?
    For his grammar policing?

  67. tizroc says:

    RevengeofPomPom,
    I do understand. It would be hard, and as I pointed out in the quote from the law sites certain criteria must be met. However the possibility (however unlikely) is there. My point wasn’t about this particular case.

    I live in Eugene, oregon where someone actually did sue the City etc… It went all the way to the oregon supreme court. That was my confusion, not the particular case, but the fact though hard, and filled with red tape and hoops that it can be done.

    Thank you for responding.
    -Tizroc

  68. Anonymous says:

    A couple years ago my storage area was broken in to and a bunch of my things were stolen. The next day I spoke with someone in the building who claimed to be a witness to the crime and to know who might have done it. So I called the regular police number (not 911) hoping to speak with someone about following up on this lead. I explained the situation, was told it was ‘not important’ and ‘to forget it.’ I disagreed and asked to speak with a supervisor at which point I was hung-up upon. Calling back, I got the same person and asked to speak to ‘a supervisor.’

    Hang up.

    Third call. I asked for the person’s name and to speak to the supervisor again. This person then insisted it wasn’t police business, and that I should not call back. I asked who’s business it was. No answer. Should I go confront the alleged thief myself?

    Told not to.

    Then I asked if I should go to the local organized crime group and ask them to confront the alleged thief for me. Told not to. Then told I was wasting police resources. Hang up.

    So I wrote and posted a letter to the detachment’s officer commanding, outlining the conversation, the time it happened, and how I deemed it wholly unacceptable (with ccs to the local MLA and MP). A couple days later I got a phone call – explaining that the person taking the calls was a civilian, and that they were handled improperly, and that an officer was coming by to investigate.

    The officer came. She was polite and took it seriously.

    In the end the suspect was apparently innocent, not arrested, and the crime remained unsolved.

  69. bwcbwc says:

    Knoxvillegirl @67: The town’s outside Detroit. A more likely explanation is that budget cuts forced them to fire half of the town’s emergency services based on seniority. It’s obvious he was in his authority-figure mode rather than acting as a professional emergency dispatcher though. I hope the town has re-thought its personnel policy regarding use of police officers as emergency dispatch operators.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Another thing, what the fuck was this asshole doing listening to the call but not answering? If he can listen to hear her say “fuck” he could fucking well answer the fucking thing and send the fucking girl some fucking help.

    Fuck. What a fucking fuck.

    -Stu

  71. Anonymous says:

    The real atrocity here is they put a 20-year veteran who’s received commendations on babysitter duty. Hire some housewife to take those calls and let the police do their real jobs.

  72. J France says:

    To those saying how to handle an emergency call, that is bollocks.

    A 911 operator should be able to give pertinent advice in an emergency – especially a medical emergency – and do it quickly and concisely, with a hysterical, cussing lunatic as your recipient.

    Sad to say I watched a Dr Phil on this recently (daytime TV shame!) and thought it was all just sensationalised bollocks… but maybe not? If the 911 systems are as in a bigger disarray as was suggested, then god help you all. Complain, and do it now.

    If there is a mass-emergency then there will be hell to pay.

  73. Sekino says:

    Somebody just got their career ruined.

    I can’t feel bad about this. He hung up on her 3 times! Yeah, she was acting somewhat erratic but she was a panicked, confused 17-year-old in an emergency situation. I really would have loved to hear his lame excuse.

    Years ago, I worked in a call center where we handled public pool emergency phone calls. The rule was simple: These calls might be about someone drowning so be ready for panic, incoherence, yelling, possibly rude/loud speaking… To hang up once on an emergency call would get you fired on the spot, rightfully so.

    At least the chief officer didn’t make excuses for him; that’s indeed refreshing.

  74. xaxa says:

    @Takuan:

    That’s a load of crap. If it isn’t, I’m glad I don’t live in your country.

    In case of fire, tell the operator
    - That there is a fire
    - Where the fire is
    - What’s burning
    - Whether life is in immediate danger (e.g. people trapped) or if it’s just your shed.

    You might just want a fire truck, but the fire department would like to know what kind of fire truck to send, how many, whether to also call the police and ambulances, the chemical leak team, the radioactivity team, whether to call a utility to shut off the gas supply to an area, and so on.

    “My shed is on fire” should get one fire truck. “A train of chemical tankers has just crashed and is on fire” needs a lot more than that.

    The same goes for ambulance, police etc. They’re trained to make the decision on what’s important and how to handle it, so tell them the facts and let them get on with it.

  75. Anonymous says:

    So let me get this straight. A 17 year-old girl, whose father is having a life-threatening seizure, attempts to dial 911 twice before the call is picked up. (Now at this point, I’d be pretty pissed) Then, when the call is finally answered on the third dialing, the officer proceeds to HANG UP ON 911 CALLER? For swearing? – now THAT IS fucked up. What’s worse is that the officer didn’t even follow procedure – instead of determining the nature of the 911 call, he fucking (yes FUCKING – I AM ENRAGED) hangs up on her after giving a misplaced lecture. WTF. IMO, the girl did nothing wrong; she dialed 911 twice when no one would pick up. All the while, her father is having a life-threatening seizure. That kind of situation almost warrants the usage of swearing. WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT COP THINKING?

  76. Anonymous says:

    The guy obviously need to be canned. She cursed BEFORE he acknowledged the call had been picked up. She doesn’t know how the system works. And besides, she is 17 years old and in a life/death situation…who gives a bleep if she cursed? Address the emergency and move on! He’s a douche bag.

  77. TheStu says:

    I had a nurse give me grief because I said “fuck” when my pain medication was over two hours late the week of my open heart surgery. She used my profanity as an excuse to focus on my misbehavior rather than her own failing to do her job.

    Petty tyrants love this shit. And it’s almost not worth it to use the words that best sum up your feelings because people shut down and ignore what you say after using profanity. That’s why profanity is best used to shut people down and steamroll, rather than to persuade.

  78. JJR1971 says:

    Never worked as a 911 operator, but have worked in an emergency assistance center for travel insurance policy holders, and the main thing you have to do is take control of the conversation and ask direct questions to get the information you need to help them as efficiently as possible. Interrupt if have to, but keep telling them “help me help you; The address is …, did I get that right?; ok, what is your relative’s DOB, etc.”; You only let them rattle on so you get the gist of what they’re saying then take charge of the conversation. Once I had gotten the essential details I could then back off and let them talk freely and show a little more empathy (or in the case a 911 operator, dispatch the appropriate resources and move on to the next call).

    It was a stressful job, but I almost never had a dull day, and my workday was usually over before I knew it from all the high adrenaline. It was good stress, unlike public school teaching, which left me utterly drained with a splitting headache.
    I took a paycut to go work for the insurance co instead, but it was SO worth it in terms of quality of work/life issues.

    It made me wince to hear co-workers handle clients as incompetently as the dispatcher in this story.

    With my insurance industry experience, if I were ever desperate for work, I think I could pull off being an effective 911 operator if I had to. We weren’t exactly like 911, but it wasn’t far removed from what 911 does.

  79. Uncle_Max says:

    How did this officer not get fired? I would imagine that hanging up on a 911 call is pretty much the #1 thing NOT to do, let alone to hang up multiple times for a ridiculous reason.

    Is it not possible to be fired as a 911 operator? Should I be looking into this as a potential career?

  80. Random_Tangent says:

    For hanging up on her, he should be suspended. For immediately lying to superiors when he realized he had fucked up, he should be fired. For trying to arrest the girl on an imaginary charge, he should be, I dunno, whipped publicly or something.

    jeezum crow.

  81. Nelson.C says:

    Jeez, Takuan, what’s the matter with you lately? You asked why anyone would want to live in the UK any more, the other week. Why do you want to live in your country, where even the emergency operators are out to fuck you up?

  82. adonai says:

    @Lemnisk – thank you for the link, I was sure I’d read about this case already.

  83. Nelson.C says:

    Takuan, I don’t know about the emergency services where you are, but here in the UK, as soon as the emergency operator gets your address and the nature of the emergency, they signal for the appropriate service to be dispatched. Any time spent talking after that is about them getting details to be passed on to the emergency team while they’re in transit, or to give you advice to get you or someone else out of danger. Or just to calm you down.

    An article in the Guardian: Whatever You Do, Don’t Panic

    The transcripts linked to at the bottom of that page are well worth reading. Some of them made me cry when I first read them.

  84. lumpi says:

    How educational. Seriously. America is going down the drain…

  85. mellon says:

    The world is full of idiots, and here we have two of them. What’s frustrating about this story is that, first, the police officer abused his power; second, no explanation is forthcoming as to why, and third, now the girl and her family are going to extract punitive damages from the town, which will cost everybody a lot of money in increased insurance premiums.

    There isn’t a single bright side to this story. It’s not a case of an injustice done and then justice served: it’s a story of two people behaving badly, and the taxpayer getting stuck with the bill.

  86. Anonymous says:

    Question: Can I request recordings of calls I’[ve made to 911? I need one for legal reasons.

  87. angryhippo says:

    #54- Your comments are irresponsible at best. For an admin… Well, I doubt you will d-vowel yourself.

    The dispatcher will use that info to determine what resources are needed. If you give them no info (ie. your “fire fire fire” advice) you’ll will get an engine and truck vs. specific info (an apartment bldg fire with flames visible on 2nd floor) you’ll get 2 engines, 3 trucks, 2 RAs and a BC (varying by location).

    Top priority for ANY FD is safety for the fire crews first. Appropriate resources is necessary.

  88. arkizzle says:

    His career is not ruined at all. He’ll take his two weeks and some training and be back on the force in no time.

    As mentioned, he’s a 20 year vet with citations of excellence, so besides this incident, he has a positive reputation with a lot of his community. Those that want will forgive his transgression, those who don’t will cuss him under their breath.

    The girl and her father may sue, and may win a settlement, but he’ll keep his job and this whole incident will be forgotten (by most) in a couple of years.

    That, I fear, is the shitty truth.

  89. TigerRaven says:

    I don’t believe that this guy still has a job! It is Outrageous! I am glad she is suing because she will easily win a case against these idiots

  90. morat says:

    #1 – coping with distressed people, calming them down and not stressing about irrelevant anxiety _is_ one of the first things that emergency comms operators are taught (at least it was where/when I was trained (which wasn’t in the states, but was as under the US-based AMPDS system)).

    Though having done comms for police and ambulance, I can say that they’re a very different experience; for the ambulance operator, your default position is that the caller is genuine and in need of help, while with the police you get a _lot_ more time wasting calls (and there’s always a little niggle at the back of the mind that someone’s trying to lure officers out to have a go at them), to the culture tends to be slightly more adversarial.
    All that being said, I’m curious as to why a call for a medical emergency ended up talking to a police sargeant. You quirky Americans :)
    Not that any of that exccuses the behaviour of the call-taker; not a good look at all.

    #18 – I’ll be blunt; that’s the way to handle 911 calls, if you’re an idiot.
    A better way is to answer the questions the person you’re talking to asks, in the order that they ask them, honestly.

    I’m not aware of any emergency service organisation anywhere that doesn’t sometimes have more jobs on the go than it has resources to send to them. When people start injecting bullshit information into the system, it destroys the ability of the people running the system to do their jobs properly, and people with genuine needs have to wait longer, because the ambulance that could have been sent to their badly broken leg is instead going to the “unknown problem, distressed informant ?dying person?” call, that turns out to be a cut finger.

    I know that you want the ambulance, or the police car, or the firetruck _now_. But there are other people who want it too. Someone has to make a decision as to who gets the toys to play with, and I think it’s better that the decision be based on need, rather than random chance, and who’s willing to lie the hardest.

    And while I’m ranting; discourage your kids from playing with phones – I never expected to spend as much of my time in comms saying “I need to talk to your mummy” to 3 year olds as I did.

  91. Xopher says:

    This petty tyrant should not only have been kicked off the force, but should have been stripped of his pension and benefits. That he got off with a slap on the wrist is an outrage.

    They’re absolutely right to sue. I hope the amount really HURTS. Maybe the taxpayers should get up in arms about bad cops doing things the town can get sued for, instead of resisting the lawsuits themselves.

  92. Nixar says:

    «The world is full of idiots, and here we have two of them.»

    Yeah, there’s nothing here that would excuse that girl from not being completely 100% totally rational. It’s not like she could think her father was dying. Oh wait.

  93. Sekino says:

    #42- I called 911 and was swearing and screaming and freaking out. The cop was cool, calm and professional. She stayed on the phone until the ambulance found us and she made sure I was calm too. I swore, ALOT, and before I hung up I apologized. She laughed and said “Hey, that’s why they pay me the big bucks babe. I hope you and your friend are ok.”

    That’s how you do it.

    Exactly.

    It’s not the caller’s duty to be ‘professional’ and collected (even though it is preferable), it’s the operator/officer answering who’s supposed to have the proper training and follow procedure. The person calling is not paid/trained to deal with emergency situations every day.

  94. rebdav says:

    Being a 911 dispatcher is among the worst jobs known to man. I was the EMS coordinator for a rural county but worked in urban areas as well. The operators are compensated well for only having the power of limited scripted medical advice and ability to send units to an event, I think an operator after one year made more than my county level management and highly trained emergency response position did. The 911 ops also were known to have insane levels of absenteeism and sick days permitted as well as 30 minutes late call in mental health days included as a matter of course, even so it was tough to keep good operators around for more than a year or two.
    BTW yelling fire and the address should be just fine, more units might be sent but most places dispatch has almost no power to send more than a standard single alarm, the arriving units will ask for more help or the call card will indicate more units in a large building or hazard area like a fuel storage facility.

  95. Anonymous says:

    i think its a bounch of bullshit okay i would be pissed if the operator told me to stop swearing when my father was having a seizer im pretty sure he would be pissed as well and at the same time shes freaking out as well you really shouldnt blame her for the laungage thts not whts she is calling for anyway

  96. Anonymous says:

    My father is recovering from brain surgery. I’m a former elementary school teacher. If I were to find him unconscious having a seizure and called 911 with no response, I can only imagine what sort of foul things would be coming out of my mouth.

    I don’t care if this officer has a 20 year record of good conduct.. he deserves to be looking for a new job for willfully endangering a life (and for the record, my wife is an officer.)

  97. Joe MommaSan says:

    This isn’t Sgt. McFarland’s first brush with charges of abusing his authority. He was the subject of an excessive force complaint a few years back for using a taser on a 14-year-old student. Of course, he was found to be perfectly justified in his actions, which undoubtedly contributed to his apparent belief he can freely abuse anyone he likes.

  98. Anonymous says:

    To Xaxa, youre kidding right?

    so with your thinking a 6 year old is supposed to size up the situation, lets say a fire. Should he tell the 911 op the the fire is on the B side of a single story occupied dwelling? or maybe that there’s possible extension to the d side of the neighboring structure. maybe tell them what apparatus to roll out.

    look shit head, that’s what the first responder is supposed to do. that’s what 911 is for. the cop gets there first, HE’s the expert, he then calls in for appropriate response OR he lets the first fire official call in mutual aid etc.

    Takuan is absolutely right.

  99. Takuan says:

    t ths wth th ptty mths tht dbt my ccmltd xprnc: bt m. lrnd th hrd wy. ntrtn wht fntss y wll, ‘ll stck t hw thngs r nd hw thy rlly wrk.

  100. Lemnisk says:

    #12, someone’s dissing a cop tends to follow the cop having already confronted the dissing party with a minor infraction, which said cop tends to be less likely to overlook after being called some variation on a ‘fucking pig’ or informed that you are indirectly the purchaser of the PD’s donuts. (Or, in the middle of a protest/riot, if the cop is already keyed up, your doing anything that would piss off a gorilla.) The degree of appropriateness of the cop’s reaction varies, but it’s no sign of weakness of nerve, unless in the middle of a violent revolution, to at least create an illusion of respect in the presence of someone who may or may not ruin your evening/wallet/face/life because you won’t cut the shit.

    Anyway, this has nothing to do with dissing a cop. This has everything to do with an officer of the Lincoln Park PD ignoring an obvious emergency–at no point did he ask her why she needed an ambulance–because he felt his time was better spent calling a frantic girl a ‘stupid ass’ and a ‘buffoon’ for requesting he send her seizing father a fucking ambulance. Even if she was being overbearing, and he’d had the worst day of his life, and everything was very understandable, his reaction was wrong. One with twenty years’ experience should’ve known better.

    ‘Buffoon’? Really?

    By the way, this was on Cracked.com six weeks ago.

    The cop in question, one Sgt. Robert McFarland, received two weeks’ unpaid suspension, ‘training,’ and a much-needed enema.

    Full story from WXYZ-Detroit, dated 2 October 2008.

  101. Anonymous says:

    This is a good example of why police officers shouldn’t be dispatchers. The personality that makes a good officer does not automatically make for a good dispatcher. My last agency used to put injured officers in dispatch while they were recovering. They either failed miserably or ended up with a whole new respect for call-takers and dispatchers.

    The protocol is very simple. Determine if an emergency exists and if so, where? Everything else is noise. You get through noise with persistent repetition.

    What do you want to bet that this dispatch center has never heard of APCO (Associated Public Safety Communications Officers – Intl).

    I find it strange that a Patrol Sgt (?) is working as a call taker. A Sgt should be supervising a crew. The fact that a Sgt lied, on a 9-1-1 tape no less, seriously damages his credibility. How can a prosecutor ever trust his testimony again? The fact that the dept only “awarded” him 2-weeks downtime seriously damages their credibility, integrity and commitment to “Public Safety”.

    Yes – I am an APCO member and my entire career since high school has revolved around public safety communications, either as a call taker/dispatcher or as a tech working on or building public safety systems.

    S A Walker
    USCG Radioman 33-years (Search and Rescue)
    Hawaii County PD 5-years (dispatch / call taker))
    Arizona DPS 1-year (dispatch & call taker)
    Durham Comms (building 9-1-1 centers) 5 years

  102. Anonymous says:

    Seriously. He’s a douche. I hope he looses his job.

  103. morat says:

    #54. “Nope, any excuse you give to help them downgrade your emergency will be exploited. Because it saves money.”

    If you have had bad experiences with emergency services, I’m sorry for that. If this is a common occurence in the US, it’s a reason I’m glad I don’t live there.

    In my experience, working in the industry in a completely not-US country is
    a) Units cost me the dispatcher exactly the same sitting in station as on the way to an emergency.
    b) In medical dispatch (less so in police) you’re trained to overreact, not underreact (which tend to peeve the crews, that get to go lights & sirens to lots of coughs and sniffles, but pays off the 1 in 20-50 when the ‘dying’ person is actually dying).
    c) There are assholes on the end of the phone. This case is pretty cast iron proof that there are some on the answering end. The fact that it’s (inter)national news tells you that it’s a pretty rare occurence. ‘Drunk asshat calls 911 and threatens to kill dispatcher’ isn’t likely to make the news.

    Please note; in c) I’m not trying to defend the officer in this; he was being a dick, and displaying piss-poor call-taking technique into the bargain. But please don’t tar all emergency call-takers / emergency services personnel with the same brush.

  104. Anonymous says:

    This person should not be working an emergency line. Period. I didn’t know emergency help was reserved only for those who don’t offend the emergency operators “finer” sensibilities. F–k is just a word in the English language–morphed from an acronym, actually. It’s a word just like “problematic,” which I detest. I don’t refuse to help people because they use the word “problematic.”

  105. LOSERKID says:

    What the fuck is wronge with the world when you can’t call 911 and be fuckn freakn out and say a few bad words

  106. Anonymous says:

    Working in the 911 field the officer should have told her to calm down I can’t understand you. Second of all to argue with her was a big no no. If I would have done that or any of my co-workers we would have been escourted to the door and fired on the spot.

    #69 – Very good info. Not many people outside the business that I know of, knows these facts.