It’s been nearly two years since I started writing about the LAPD’s poor record of responding to our calls. Since it’s been so long since my last report, I thought I’d share our latest run-in with the LAPD’s kick-ass customer service to illustrate that nothing much has changed.
A week and a half ago, in the late afternoon on a Sunday, I caught a guy freebasing in his car in front of my house. Since The Man usually doesn’t come anyway, I’ve found that it’s more productive to go chase off evildoers on my own. So, I walk up to the guy’s open driver’s side window and he’s so stoned he doesn’t even notice me standing two feet away from him. It startles the shit out of him when I say hi and tell him that he needs to clear the fuck out ASAP. He’s smiling at first, when he still thinks I don’t know what he’s doing, but his mood darkens a bit as I talk and he says, “Okay.” Then I tell him that if I see his car again, even just driving down our street, I’ll call the cops. He doesn’t like that very much. He gets very surly and says “You’ve made your point,” and I turn around and head inside to call the cops.
When dealing with drug users or hookers or drunken neighbors, I usually call 877-ASK-LAPD rather than 911 since, while irritating, it’s not a life-threatening emergency. However, given that this guy is still sitting in the driver’s seat of his shitbox 70’s soft-top, holding his paraphernalia and staring stonily out of his windshield, and that his response had been vaguely threatening, I decide to go with 911 in hopes that somebody might actually respond in a timely fashion.
After sitting on hold for awhile, the dispatcher finally picks up and I tell her there’s a man freebasing in his car in front of my house and he refuses to leave. “One second,” she says, and transfers me to the non-emergency dispatch number. Alright, fine. So it’s not an emergency. I can handle that. Again, I sit on hold for another five minutes. The LAPD hold message is it’s own special kind of hell, because you have to sit through the TLD screech over, and over, and over the entire time you’re on hold. As you can imagine, it’s a wonderful way to encourage people to sit tight while whiling away valuable response time trying to reach a dispatcher. Eventually, they pick up and I’m now ten minutes into trying to reach somebody. Jerkface has been sitting in his car outside the whole time. Now he’s got his hood up and seems to be having trouble getting his car started. Great! He’s a sitting duck. I give the dispatcher my information and she assures me an officer will be right there. I hunker down and wait. And wait. And wait. The jackass outside takes turns fiddling under his hood and zoning out in the front seat, eventually getting the thing started. He takes his sweet time cleaning up, even being so kind as to walk all the way up the street to throw out his foil. Then he gets in his car and drives off. 25 minutes after my call, a police cruiser drives by the house at high speed and disappears. No stop. No follow up call.
As an added bonus, last weekend we watched three teenagers rob a drunk guy underneath the Belmont tunnel, and, after sitting on hold with 911 for more 10 minutes, again with the TLD screech, we hung up when the victim finally got up and walked away down the street.
What’s the point? I’ve dealt with so much hold time and late-shows and no-shows at this point that I’m honestly starting to feel unsafe living in this city. Not just here in Hi-Fi, but in L.A. as a whole. After all, what am I going to do if something happens to me? Call the cops? I think we’ve seen where that goes.
Instead of spending time and money to take 911 calls via SMS, how about they put some energy into actually responding to calls? As I’ve mentioned before, I know that I can deal with ongoing problems by calling my neighborhood’s Senior Lead Officer, etc., but that’s not an answer that helps me in the moment. I don’t know about other cities in the Metblogs network, but 911 is definitely a joke in this town.