Crime Trackers

Feb 19, 2013 5:40 PM by Lupita Murillo

Dispatchers struggle with dumb 911 calls

TUCSON - 911 has been around since 1968. It's the "go to" number for emergencies.
But as city budgets shrink and demand for service goes up some of those so called emergencies are taking up valuable resources.

At the Emergency Communication Center, dispatchers receive 2,000 calls a day. While most of the calls are valid some will shock you. This is a sample of calls taken over a two week period.
Dispatcher: This is 911 what are you reporting?

Caller: I have been kept awake since about 1:00 am by dogs next door whining.
Dispatcher: 911 what is your emergency?
Caller: It's not really an emergency I just need a police officer . I already have a military cop at my house and I have two teenage children here that are disrespecting me and disobeying me.
Dispatcher: 911 what is your emergency?
Caller: It's a non emergency I was looking to see if my dog had been found.
Dispatcher: 911 what is the emergency?

Caller: There is a car parked in my parking space and I have no where to park
Vicki Vonda is one of ten dispatchers on shift. She says there's never a dull moment. "I had just gotten off the phone with a son giving CPR to his mother it was life and death. My very next call, the woman starts it off by "it's not life or death or anything" ok , what's the problem? There's a scorpion in my bedroom."

To those callers Jonda would like to say, "Really? You thought this was an emergency really?"
But she doesn't, Jonda does her job and sends out emergency personnel. However, she wants people to know who call in with frivolous requests.

"When you call 911 you're taking a unit out of service to come see you, what if the next call came in from a relative having a stroke or heart attack? " Jonda adds, "Now we have to send a unit that's further away because you called and stubbed your toe because you got mad and kicked the door that's not fair to the citizens, to your family member, and to the fire department that responds out there."

Fire Captain Barret Baker says, "It's a frustrating situation and TPD obviously has to deal with so many things of that nature. From a medical side we're just trying to get people in the right direction."

Many times, Capt. Barret says they will give people information about mental health facilities, or social service agencies.

The 911 calls keep coming in, this man tells the dispatcher, "I would like the Tucson Police
Dept.please.
Dispatcher: O-K what is it that you're reporting?
Caller: I'll let them know thank you
Dispatcher: I need to know what's wrong and what address?
Caller: No you don't just put me through please. You're wasting my time. You're wasting my time!!!!
The call goes through to Tucson police the next thing you hear,
Dispatcher: Tucson Police,
Caller: Yes m ‘am, I would like to report a barking dog.
It's calls like this dispatchers say is wasting their time.

911 dispatchers also say if it's not a life or death situation have someone drive you to Urgent Care or call a CAB. If there's a barking dog issue contact Pima Animal Care Center at 520 243-5900.

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