911, How Can We Ignore You?

, , , , , | | Legal | June 16, 2018

(I come home from work at night to find a group of teenagers standing in the middle of the parking lot of my apartment doing drugs. Being a young woman with a small build, I feel immediately uncomfortable having to walk by these boys by myself at night. As I circle around to find a parking space, the boys keep glaring at me and approaching my car menacingly. I finally find a parking space on the opposite side of the lot, but still feel uncomfortable walking to my apartment alone. I call the police to see if they can come out to assess the situation.)

911 Dispatcher: “911. What is your emergency?”

(I go through the process of giving my address, stating that I need police, etc. I finally get on the line with a police dispatcher.)

Police Dispatcher: “What is your emergency?”

Me: “There is a group of teenagers doing drugs in the middle of the parking lot of my apartment.”

Police Dispatcher: “Can you describe anything about the vehicle they’re in?”

Me: “Um, they aren’t in a vehicle. They’re standing around the parking lot.”

Police Dispatcher: “Well, are they standing near a car? Can you describe it at all?”

Me: “I mean the boys are talking to another boy who is sitting with the door open out of a car, the rest are standing in the middle of the parking lot. I didn’t get a good look at the car because they started to approach me as I drove by them.”

Police Dispatcher: “So you can’t give me any descriptions?”

Me: “I mean, I can describe the boys. There are four of them, they are [race] and seem around [age range]. They are all wearing backwards ball caps and baggy shirts, and they are smoking joints and passing small pills between them.”

Police Dispatcher: “But you can’t describe the vehicle at all?”

Me: “There is no vehicle involved! One boy is sitting in his car talking to these guys, but the ones I’m having a problem with are literally walking around the parking lot. From the two seconds I looked at the car, while they were approaching my car, I saw that it was a small car, probably a sedan, in maybe silver or grey. But again, that has nothing to do with my call. I’m calling about the four boys walking around the parking lot doing drugs and hassling me. You can’t miss them! Look, I’m sitting in my car on the other side of the parking lot because they keep glaring at me and I don’t feel comfortable walking to my apartment alone in the dark with these boys here. Could you please send someone out to help me?”

Police Dispatcher: “I’ll try to send someone out to take a look.”

Me: “Thank you.” *click*

(I sat in my car for almost an hour until the boys finally decided to go inside an apartment opposite mine. No one ever came to help me. I called later to ask if something big had happened that prevented someone from coming out to help me. After finding the report the previous dispatcher made about my call, the operator told me a note had been made that the caller was “unable to give a full description of the other vehicle involved” and the call was deemed a low priority. I filed a formal complaint. I’ve always been the biggest supporter of the police department, still am, but I was furious that day at how my safety was completely disregarded by a jaded 911 operator.)

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