911 Is A Joke, Redux

Are you all sick of me harping on the ridiculousness of the LAPD’s response time yet? The comments on my last post about the topic pretty much confirmed everything I had to say about it. A few weeks ago, an LAist author posted an indirect rebuttal about a wonderfully responsive reaction they got from The Man but, again, the comments skewed toward that being a freakish, atypical experience. But, just in case there’s anybody that still doubts just how long the LAPD can take to come save your ass from the bad guys, I’m back with another story to make your blood thin.

This afternoon, two shady looking dudes parked their car shitty car in front of my house and proceeded to shoot up in broad-motherfucking-daylight. Thinking I was finally going to get some fools caught in the act, I called 911 and gave the details to a dispatcher. That was at 3:16 p.m., which I know because I followed up that call with a call to my SLO and my mobile’s got the time stamp. Then, I laid low and tried to get a plate number without the bastards seeing me. I didn’t want them to know anybody had seen them in hopes that they’d spend enough time nodding in their car for the fuzz to come lay down some flashlight justice. Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes, the police hadn’t come and said junkies were scared away by a neighbor parking his car in front of them. Thanks to the wonders of wireless technology, I’ve been sitting here on the porch ever since, waiting for a cruiser to come by. 56 minutes and counting. I’m so steamed all I can think of to say is fucking fuck you, Los Angeles Police Department. I’m off to buy a shotgun.

Update: A cruiser finally drove by at 5:29 p.m. Strangely, it passed again about 10 minutes later. Maybe they figure that passing by twice makes up for the fact that it took them 2 hours and 13 minutes to respond in the first place?

26 Replies to “911 Is A Joke, Redux”

  1. When you said “shooting up” I thought you meant
    shooting, as in “Guns”. Two guy’s hype’n up in a car is problably low on the LAPD’s crime list. They may show up tomorrow.

  2. Next time provide pictures from your cell phone along with the date/time stamp.

    As an fyi…unless there’s bullets shooting or blood on the pavement they likely are too busy for a couple of junkies to respond.

    The other thing to consider is that if you are a frequent caller, and the 911 operators know who you are when you call from your number and incident history. If your calls have a large number of nothing found when they arrived you are put into the flake category. My cousin is a 911 operator and her guess is you are in that category and your calls aren’t taken seriously any longer. Theory is that is why it took over 2 hours to arrive.

    Answer me this…when you call do they ask you if you want an officer follow up with you or if they can use your name? If so that is your dead confirmation they aren’t taking you seriously any more. That per my cousin the Anaheim 911 operator and my neighbor the LAPD 911 operator in Parker Center.

    It’s sad when someone wants to make a difference and they get routed into the wrong category.

  3. As an fyi…unless there’s bullets shooting or blood on the pavement they likely are too busy for a couple of junkies to respond.

    I know, I know, I know. People say that every time. Two things about that:

    A) my SLO tells me to call, so I call. Usually I call the non-emergency dispatch, though.
    B) That’s fucking nuts. As I’ve said before, would we accept 2.25 hour response times from the Fire Department? Hell fucking no.

    What I’d like to know is, if I shouldn’t expect to be able to call the police and get a response about an active (and ongoing) crime, when should I expect to be able to call them? And what are my alternatives?

    If your calls have a large number of nothing found when they arrived you are put into the flake category. My cousin is a 911 operator and her guess is you are in that category and your calls aren’t taken seriously any longer. Theory is that is why it took over 2 hours to arrive.

    Wow, I really hope that’s just hearsay because that’s stunningly stupid. It’s taken them this long to respond since day one, and the reason they don’t find anything when they arrive is that they took too long to respond in the first place. If I call to report somebody having sex or shooting dope in a car and it takes them 30 minutes to show up, what exactly do they expect to find? I’ll have to ask my SLO about this.

    Answer me this…when you call do they ask you if you want an officer follow up with you or if they can use your name? If so that is your dead confirmation they aren’t taking you seriously any more. That per my cousin the Anaheim 911 operator and my neighbor the LAPD 911 operator in Parker Center.

    Well, they’ve asked me if I want to leave a name and number every time I’ve called, so I don’t know that it’s really an indicator. Still, I’ll ask my deputy field officer from my councilman’s office. I’m speaking with him tomorrow.

  4. I know you’re pissed, and the law is the law, but besides themselves, who is the victim? Shooting up isn’t the same as marijuana, but many cities have passed laws making marijuana the lowest priority for law enforcement. I’d imagine shooting up isn’t that much higher.

  5. There was an article in the Times recently about how the worst thing you can do when you want assistance is to call 911 from a mobile phone. Response times get glacially slow, and sometimes it’ll ring for many minutes before the call’s even answered.

    Next time you need to call 911, call from a land line if at all possible.

  6. 5000…you’re welcome to call or write me direct. The info I gave is what I’ve been given as how those agencies handle continuous callers, not you specifically. It’s not uncommon unfortunately. Yes, the brass will deny it but talk with the operators and you get a different story.

    Which would you prefer? Not knowing and being pissed or have a valid concern and some information to follow up with?

  7. errr, I’d hate to hear my neighbor being beaten by her boyfriend and call the cops only to have them arrive too late to save her with the apology, “sorry, we’d have been here sooner but we were responding to a call about a non-violent and non-property damage related crime.” I don’t mean to make light of your situation, but it is a matter of triage, ultimately. I’m not saying don’t call these things in. No fault in doing that. But I wouldn’t expect them to come rushing over to catch a couple of guys in the act of not hurting, stealing, or destroying anything (other than your property value). Especially if they’re the sort who are so non-confrontational that they’re scared off by a neighbor parking nearby.

  8. but besides themselves, who is the victim?

    Hypothetically, the neighbor who’s house gets broken into by a junkie looking for something to pawn, or maybe the little kid who steps on one of the dirty needles they leave in the gutter and contracts something awful, or maybe your brother or son who gets killed in a head on collision by a junkie on a nod driving home. I’m a huge proponent of personal freedom, but if you want to shoot dope do it at home, not in front of my house.

    As for Glau, your argument is a red herring. Our police force should be able to respond reasonably to calls about crime in progress, especially in known problem areas. Once, twice, even three slow responses, fine. But I can’t count on both hands the number of calls I’ve made to either 911 or 888-ASK-LAPD to report prostitution, drug dealing or drug use in progress and had either an egregiously slow response or, sometimes, no response at all. Plus, it’s a fine, fine line between your domestic violence call (which isn’t what was described in that LAist post, if that’s what you’re alluding to) and my drug use in progress call. For example what if the cops ignore my call so they can respond to the “domestic disturbance,” and when I go out to chase off the junkies in front of my house because the cops haven’t arrived they stab me and rape my girlfriend? Who am I to complain? After all, your neighbor was yelling at his girlfriend. The least I could do was wait until I get assaulted or robbed before bothering them about it.

    More importantly, I’ve been in touch with the SLO for this neighborhood and working on a solution to these problems for three years and I still receive the same response. I understand that it’s a matter of triage, but what I want to know is why we accept that? And to be frank, I have a hard time believing that there’s only been one single cruiser able to respond in less than 30 minutes out of every call I’ve made regarding a crime in progress for the last three years. I only live EIGHT blocks away from Rampart police station for god’s sake!

    Just to be clear, because I’m sure plenty of people haven’t read any of the other things I’ve written about this, I’m not complaining that I called the cops once and they didn’t come. I’m complaining because I’ve been calling the cops for three years and they’ve never come. Justify that all you want, but it’s still a fucking scary idea if you really think about it.

  9. I called 911 once on the freeway after a car had flipped over. Granted….somebody probably had called the same incident in…..but my cell phone call never got through….and after 10 minutes, i hung up. Its nice to know that if i had been shot, stabbed, or beaten, or was being chased, that somebody is available to even take my call, let alone provide some help….cuz after 10 minutes….it’s probably too late.

  10. The LAPD are some of the best trained cops in the world. The problem is there are about 5,000 too few of them.

    In modern urban society, overcrowded and under-policied, decayed by liberal “tolerance” and the view (by non-victims) of crime as a “disease,” the only one who can take responsibility for your personal safety is yourself. Through physical fitness, martial arts, weapons, or just being really aware of your surroundings, you must protect you. Or move. Los Angeles is not Beverly Hills, nor is it Burbank.

    If you do not have a firearm (or 20) in your home that you are trained to use, and that option does not appeal to you, get yourself a baseball bat. If you have an alarm at home, and people are getting shady outside, you can have your alarm company send a guard by. If you don’t pay for private response, your alarm is nothing but a noisemaker.

    For whatever reason, ivory-towered politicians and celebrity activists, who, incidentally are the only people with concealed carry licenses in LA County, seem to think we, the common people, should not be trusted with our own self defense. Who do we trust it to then, a non-existent god? Pure luck?

    When people are screwing around in front of your house, your first goal is to make them leave, without causing danger to yourself, unless you are an adrenaline junky, then maybe you go stick a gun in their faces. Or get your crazy neighbor the adrenaline junky to stick a gun in their faces. Or if you are non-violent, turn on the sprinklers. Scream obscenities at them. Sic your dog on them. Go take pictures of them for your blog (that’s a cool idea). Just get them to leave. Then leave a voicemail, or email your Sr. Lead Officer and tell him about the problem (but don’t tell him that part about when you stuck a gun in their face). If he (or she) is any good, like my Sr. Lead Officer certainly is, he will follow up.

    If you don’t know your Sr. Lead Officer, and he doesn’t know you, welcome to the neighborhood.

    If you have surveillance cameras, get him photos of the perps. He probably knows them already. Just don’t try to email video to the LAPD because their computers can’t open video files. Seriously. Not only does this city need more cops, the existing cops need better computers.

    Just don’t call 911.

  11. I called 911 once on the freeway after a car had flipped over…..but my cell phone call never got through

    Worth noting that 911 calls made from a mobile will, I think, go to CHP not LAPD.

  12. 5000! you are right; most 911 calls made from a cell phone go to CHP. There is some new technology out there that is starting to change that, and route it to the nearest local agency, but it’s definitely not the norm. (I work at a police department.)

  13. To confirm again – 911 calls from cell phones go to CHP comm centers, NOT to the local agency. This can delay response time (though not by much as dispatchers can route calls correctly, quickly).

    Calling in matters, even if you don’t see a cop, still helps departments plot problem areas and – hopefully – change patrol patterns.

    But 5000!, you take the argument too far back when arguing that two dope-doers in front of your house are as pressing a problem as 100s of possible other, more highly prioritized incidents. Yes, all those consequences – the break-ins, needles, etc – are possible. But since any of those exact examples COULD have been called in at the same time as yours, they would be – and should be – paid attention to more quickly.

    Want it to improve? Help LAPD recruit more officers. The ratio of cops to both geography and population is pretty heavily against you. That’s the reality. Doesn’t make it okay – but neither does reiterating the problem change the situation. We can’t chop up cops like starfish and magically have more. We’ll have to find people to serve. . . . .

  14. Please don’t call 911 for low-priority, “quality of life” crimes like this. 911 is for emergencies. E-mer-gen-cies. Like somebody having a heart attack or a hot prowl (burglar inside an occupied dwelling) in progress.

    There’s already a big problem with people tying up 911 operators with chickenshit calls, and you’re making it worse. Don’t do it again, OK?

  15. I don’t disagree, CD. My intent isn’t to complain that I called the police once and they didn’t come. Rather, I’m trying to share my experience that, in three years and dozens of calls about ongoing and active criminal activity that I’m witness to, the police have only ONCE been able to respond in a timely fashion. That includes the time that I confronted a user who was belligerent and threatening and refused to leave, and the time that they told me there weren’t responding to anything but life threatening emergencies just because there was a car chase going on. If everybody else feels comfortable with that, more power to you. I, on the other hand, don’t feel particularly safe or comfortable knowing that I can’t count on a timely police response unless I’ve already become a victim.

  16. Daniel, don’t be a patronizing dickface. I’ve made it very clear that I almost always call 888-ASK-LAPD, or my SLO directly. I call 911 very, very rarely and only when I think it’s warranted. And that’s against the advice of my SLO, who’s told me to call 911. If you think you know better than him, you can take it up with him directly. His name is Vic Gutierrez and he’s based out of Rampart.

  17. 5000! I think the point remains: yeah, it sucks and no it’s not okay, but, seriously, what can be done? We need more cops and they need more money. And so . . . .

  18. 5000! I think the point remains: yeah, it sucks and no it’s not okay, but, seriously, what can be done?

    Well, I could write posts about it on my community oriented blog in hopes that it gets other people aware and energized to get involved and foster change. Of course, that gets difficult when commenters spend so much energy implying that your wasting your time.

  19. For the record, my SLO just left here and the first thing he did when he showed up was ask how long they took to respond yesterday and then apologize profusely for the slow response.

  20. I’ve called from a mobile on the freeway–motorcycle vs. car–and gotten through pretty quickly, considering. But calling 911 from a cell phone for a non-violent quality of life crime isn’t going to get much of a response. Flashlight justice? Are you kidding?

    Do you have a neighborhood watch set up?

  21. Flashlight justice? Are you kidding?

    Ha. I was particularly proud of that coinage. Anyway, that’s called a joke, Mrs. Cohen. Not that your history of being a sanctimonious ass in our comments section would give me any indication that you have what the rest of us call a “sense of humor.”

    As a matter of fact, I don’t have a neighborhood watch set up. After discussing the topic with both my SLO and my council person’s office a few years ago, I discovered that it requires both numerous neighbors and neighbors that are interested in the authorities being aware of them. Sadly, I lack both of those in spades.

  22. I don’t know if it makes you feel any better or any worse to know you aren’t alone in this. We have tons of bums (oh I’m sorry, I mean economically disadvantaged homeless individuals) in our neighborhood, and they are constantly shooting up, drunkenly screaming at the trees, getting in fights, breaking into apartments, urinating and defecating on the street, sleeping in front of our buildings, and generally making the neighborhood a dump. The police won’t do anything at all about it. It doesn’t matter if you call the non-emergency number, or 911, they just don’t care about the problem. Even when one of the bums started stabbing his girlfriend in the face with a broken bottle, the cops still took 20 minutes to answer the 911 call, and another 3 hours to show up! Of course when they finally did show up, they lectured us on the importance of not wasting their time looking for alleged suspects who were nowhere to be found (having left hours ago). Even the one time I saw a guy get shot across the street on my way to the gym, the cops took 15 minutes to answer the phone, and then never even bothered to call me back after giving them my information.

    What cracks me up though, is don’t you dare leave your car parked in a red zone in my neighborhood for more than 15 minutes, or they will be right on that, and you will have a ticket. I know, different departments, and that generates revenue, but you would think that in between ticketing cars, they might just take a minute to do something about that guy sleeping on the sidewalk 10 feet away.

  23. Calm down, 5000. It’s just criticism. It happens to us all, from time to time.

    Anyway, I repeat that people shooting up outside of your house is not an emergency, and if your SLO says it is, your SLO is wrong. It’s possible for policemen to be wrong about things, believe it or not.

  24. Well, I could write posts about it on my community oriented blog in hopes that it gets other people aware and energized to get involved and foster change. Of course, that gets difficult when commenters spend so much energy implying that your wasting your time.

    Nooooo . . I’m asking for concrete ideas. How do we recruit more cops? How to we reappropriate resources to increase patrols and equipment. What about community based policing or community security officers (miserable failure in England, but hey, worth a shot)? Cameras?

    You’ve pointed out the problem. How do we fix it? “Fostering change” is such an overused, meaningless phrase. What change and how? I haven’t said “stop repeating yourself.” I’m saying, “Yes, and . . . so . . . we do what to fix the problem?”

  25. You’ve pointed out the problem. How do we fix it?

    I really torn about how to answer that because I’m really of two minds about it. To some extent, posting about my experiences is a way for me to educate people about how broken the system actually is and that they should be prepared for the ramifications that, and for the time being that’s work enough. But I spoke with my SLO yesterday afternoon and I’m speaking with my field deputy from my council person’s office today so I’ll have to get back to you afterwards.

    rcl, I apologize for getting snippy with you. Regardless of your history in the comments at bLA, you weren’t being particularly obnoxious in this thread and it was base of me to take a swipe at you. So, sorry about that.

    Daniel, you can still eat a dick.

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