Thursday, April 14, 2005

911 joke

I'm backgrounding MSNBC as I work and I had to stop to comment on this: A 911 dispatcher in north Texas is in trouble for making a joke to a woman who called 911 because her two daughters were fighting. The woman who called 911 was emotional and looking for help or at least some advice in how to deal with her naughty 12-year-old. Here's the transcript of the call:

CALLER: The 12-year-old is completely out of control, and I can't- I physically... She's as big as I am, I can't control her.

DISPATCHER: Okay, did you want us to come over and shoot her?


DISPATCHER: Are you there?

CALLER: Excuse me?

DISPATCHER: That's a joke.

CALLER: This is really not very funny.

DISPATCHER: I know it's not, ma'am. I apologize.

CALLER: Well, guess what, it's not going to be very funny when I go in front of your supervisor and tell him -

DISPATCHER: I understand.

CALLER: I guess he can just listen to the tape.

DISPATCHER: Yes, he can.

The woman said that the comment first puzzled, then angered her. She doesn't want the dispatcher fired, but she met with the police later and recommended a reprimand. The dispatcher, Mike Forbess, has been reprimanded twice already, but I don't think he was truly out of line.

Was the woman correct in calling 911 because her child was unruly? If you were the dispatcher and you were fielding calls on a shooting on the freeway, debris being thrown from an overpass onto cars on the freeway and killing motorists, you know, life-threatening incidents and then you get a call from a woman whose 12-year-old is throwing a tantrum, how would you react? People are getting bent out of shape at the dispatcher, what about the woman and her frivolous call to 911? The first hint to me that the call wasn't an emergency - she was scolding the dispatcher rather than stress about what her daughter was doing. I was under the assumption that 911 calls should be reserved for highly volatile dangerous situations requiring immediate remedial action. Maybe this is why I am unemployable for the most part, but I think Mike's reaction wasn't that egregious considering the situation. That woman should be fined for abusing the 911 service with a frivolous, wackadoodle call. I'd be pissed if the police didn't react quickly to a freeway shooting or another real emergency because the operator was dealing with a 12-year-old's tantrum and a mother who can't discipline her children.


Los Angeles Fire Department said...


You clearly missed this authenticated jem of a 9-1-1 call that occured recently in Orange County:

celia said...

I am stunned. That dispatcher showed remarkable restraint. I would have found some way to reach through the phone line and bitch-slap that idiot. Or send a deputy out to shoot the caller. That caller has an incredible sense of entitlement.