Friendly Neighborhood Dispatcher

Here’s a funny work story (or two) for you folks.  Given my occupation I enjoy watching funny police dispatcher videos and audio clips, because I know exactly what they have to deal with.  So first I’ll tell you a funny story a recent semi-retired officer told me when we were working together.  You see, my partner (and boss) had too many hours and we have a new no-overtime rule, so he had to take an extra day off.  Well, his replacement was a no-call/no-show, so we brought a guy out of retirement to cover the shift to prevent overtime.  Trouble with starting the week on a Friday is come Wednesday there’s only three people who haven’t already worked a full 40 this week (names have been changed to keep me from getting fired): My Lieutenant, Tim, and myself.

The Lt. was off, like I said, because he’d replaced the day-shift switchboard woman on last Friday.  Thursday is the day that payroll has to submitted to the payroll department, so he can’t take that day off.  So he had to take Wednesday off.

Tim wouldn’t pick up his phone, because the last time this happened it was a Thursday 11:30-7:30 overnight shift when we had a no-call/no-show.  Tim got in at 12:30…so they said that’s no longer a Thursday shift, it’s now a Friday shift since it’s after midnight.  So he got seven hours on the following week, just so they wouldn’t have to pay overtime that week.  Then they took a day from him to prevent him from getting overtime the following week.  That means he came in, on his day off, to work 7 hours…and they took 8 hours from him.  So they docked him an hour’s pay the next week for doing them a favor.  He no longer picks up the phone on his days off when the caller I.D. says the Captain is calling him.  I don’t blame him.

Then there is myself…I’m already working and we have a two-officer per shift policy.  One officer has to run the desk and switchboard and play dispatcher; the other officer goes on patrol.

So that leaves 5 other officers on the roster, so we’ve got three alternates.  One of the alternates was the no-show, and the other two are nightshift-only.  That’s what you get when you try replacing full-time officers with part-timers: One doesn’t show up to work (3rd shift in a week’s time she didn’t show up for), one takes classes in the afternoon so he can get a real job some day, and the other one has kids she has to watch in the afternoon and can’t get a babysitter until her husband (who works second shift like me) gets home.

So they brought a semi-retired officer from another region out to work with me, after a Captain came out to play dispatcher to make sure I could go on patrol an hour and a half later.

Now, I told you that story to tell you this story…

The old retired guy was telling me a story from ‘back in the day’ when police dispatchers were being changed from other police officers working switchboard to a civilian-run organization (which eventually became a little bit better with specially trained dispatchers in the County 911 system).

His story went like this…

Police officer walks into the local 7-11 kind of shop because they offer free donuts and coffee to police.  He gets a cup of coffee and the Krispy Kreme guy shows up and puts a fresh batch of donuts out.

A few moments later the cop, with a fresh donut, watched the Krispy Kreme truck pull out of the lot.  He took a bit out of his donut and said ‘Hi’ to the Krispy Kreme guy as he walked passed.

Take a moment, if you need to.

The cop ran out of the shop and jumped on his radio requesting dispatch to, “Put out an APB [All-Points Bulletin] on a stolen Krispy Kreme delivery truck.”

The response on the radio from the civilian dispatcher was, he shit me not, “Can you describe the truck?”

“Yeah, it’s a box truck with pictures of donuts and the words Krispy Kreme painted on the side about fifty times, you slack-jawed, fuckin’ idiot!  By the time you get the APB out there, it’ll be across county lines!”

That being said, dispatchers do get a lot of crap.  Here’s a good example of that.

My partner and I (different office, not the Lt. or the retired guy with me) were sitting at the desk about to switch roles.  She fielded a call asking for a woman named Angela.  We looked her up to see if she was an employee in the building, maybe an engineer or an accountant or something that we didn’t know personally.  Not in the computer roster.

I offered to look at our paper roster, which is strangely better updated lately.  She informed him we’d look at our paper back roster.  Then she got a weird facial expression and set the phone down.

I checked the roster and Angela wasn’t there.  I informed her of the ‘no go’ and she smacked the phone down and hung it up.  Here’s what she said happened…

“When I told him I’d check the roster…he said, ‘take your time…Bitch!’”

We laughed about the rude man and a moment later the phone rang again.  She picked it up and handed it to me and I politely greeted the caller.  The voice on the phone, I can only describe, as a Jamaican using an Arabic accent.  He asked for Angela, again, and I double-checked my roster.  I informed him that I didn’t have her name in my roster, but if he knew what department she worked in, I could transfer him to someone in that department.  His response was less than…gentle:

“Fuck you mutha fucka, I don’t know what department she’s in, just transfer me to her.”

“I can’t transfer you, if I don’t know who she is or where she’s at.”

“Fuck you, mutha fucka, and transfer me to her, now!”

“Sir, we’re not an answering service…”

I gentle explained to him what we did and then got this great response…

“Don’t lie to me, fuck you mutha fucka, lemme speak to yo manager.”

I sat the phone down and hit the ‘hold’ button, shrugged and smiled at my partner, “He’ll eventually give up, our hold music isn’t that good.”

He stayed on the line for about two minutes before hanging up and he didn’t call again.  Problem solved.

~RCS

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