TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Last Laugh! One Way to Get 911's Attention

Re: Last Laugh! One Way to Get 911's Attention

Mark Atwood (
Mon, 25 Apr 2005 04:21:18 GMT

Patrick Townson <> writes:

> The Correct Way To Call The Police

> George Phillips of New York City was going up to bed when his wife
> told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed which she

Debunked by Snopes.

Mark Atwood | When you do things right, people won't be sure | you've done anything at all.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Snopes says the incident did not occur,
and they may be correct. Snopes also claims in that same article that
police should be allowed to prioritize their work as they see best,
and that may be correct also. However ... when calling police, people
should _never_ be told to leave a recorded message and 'we will get
back to you ASAP.' That does absolutely nothing to restore or maintain
a citizen's confidence in the police who are supposed to serve him.

Citizens are told to only use 911 in a dire emergency, at least that
is how I was taught. You are to use 911 only if _immediate_police_
intervention_is needed_this_very_instant. You want to report a stolen
car or a burgarized house? Fine ... but those things are _not_ strictly
speaking 'emergencies'. They are events that took place at some time
in the past. But many times police wish to have everything go through
911 -- emergency or not -- to keep their paperwork in order. Some
police departments absolutely refuse to speak directly to citizens
until the call has first gone through 911. As a result, sometimes 911
is horribly congested, leading to situations as described in the urban
legend account. If 911 is used, the dispatchers should assume an
emergency exists and deal with the call like one. They should _never_
tell the caller to 'leave a message and someone will get back to you'.
At the same time, if a citizen is courteous enough to call the 7-D for
police, police should be courteous enough to deal with him that way
also. Police sometimes seem to want to have things both ways: use 911
so we can have some control over the origin of the call, etc, *and*
use it for emergencies as well; _we_ will tell you what we can or will
do about it'. If police have staffing problems sometimes as a result
of this 'call 911 for everything' attitude, that's their problem to
deal with. And of course now they want to handle all city government
through 311 as well. PAT]

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