911. You Know What It Is.

911 Is a JokeIt’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.

13 Replies to “911. You Know What It Is.”

  1. That non-emergancy line is a joke too. I’ve used it several times, but by the time an officer arrives, whatever the non-emergency crime was has already occured and the evil-doers have left the area.

    It’s very scary to confront them yourself. Because more than likely they can figure out where you live and come back and cause you problems, problems where you will really need 911.

  2. It’s not an LAPD only issue. Sunday before last there was a helicopter announcing something along the lines of “stay in your house” as best we could decipher. The helicopter was in the Canyon about 5 blocks from my house. My friend Kate and her neighbors who actually had the ‘copter over the house called Monrovia PD to find out what was going on were first asked “are you in the canyon?”. Answer was “no” then she was told “it doesn’t involve you” and was hung up on.

    Needless to say Kate and the other callers living on Granite Avenue were not happy with that response or attitude. They intend on attending the next city clownsel meeting to discuss the whole citizens don’t need to know attitude expressed that night.

    All of that aside I held a pretty jaded view of the 911 Operators until I saw the training that my cousin Jill went through to get the job with Anaheim PD. A lot of training, and in the end the most entertaining stories come about when the full moon comes out and every psycho with a phone calls them complaining over the most inane things. Doesn’t explain the problems we run into but does help me appreciate her side of the job. She may just be the odd man out…she cares about her job and doing it well.

  3. This is actually one of my biggest problem with Los Angeles. THE POLICE NEVER COME.

    My new place was supposedly in an LASD served area. Later I found out it was LAPD. Damn it.

    I shoulda bought in Glendale.

  4. Yea, it happens elsewhere too, not that that makes it less of a issue. A few years ago the Burbank cops were actually a bit pissed at me when the guy who had his hands around my throat when I called 911 didn’t, you know, hang around for the half-hour it took for the police to show up.

  5. In Burbank, where my office is, the cops respond to alarm calls, in about 2 minutes.

    Anyway, I’ve had mixed dealings with the LAPD. I got my car broken into outside my new house in Studio City (I used to live in Glendale, and I’ll move back eventually). I caught the whole thing surveillance video. When I called the LAPD, the whole reporting process was a nightmare – took hours and I really felt like it was a waste of time for a lousy broken car window and stolen electronic device. I didn’t think anyone would watch my video or look at the photos even though the thief and his getaway car were very clear.

    But the amazing part is, I got a call from my neighborhood’s lead officer, and also a detective, and based on my video they actually arrested the guy! He was a suspect in a car theft, multiple house burglaries, and they only knew his first name. One of his victims, a former neighbor whose car was stolen, identified the perp and his car, and using my photo, they caught him!

    But when it comes to homeless, drug addicts, etc. hanging where they shouldn’t in my alley or around my place, I confront them with a cell phone and a Glock .45 secured in a kydex inside the waistband holster. It is legal to carry concealed when trying to preserve your property or carry out a lawful arrest. What are they going to do, call the cops?

    I don’t understand how Glendale and Burbank are so relatively crime free – and their city streets are so pothole free – and there’s very few homeless – maybe because they don’t spend all their money on social welfare and spend them on essential services instead?

  6. But the amazing part is, I got a call from my neighborhood’s lead officer, and also a detective, and based on my video they actually arrested the guy!

    I’ve actually had pretty good experiences with the detectives, and with my current SLO (not the last one, though). My bone of contention is definitely centered on response.

    It is legal to carry concealed when trying to preserve your property or carry out a lawful arrest.

    Hmmmm…I don’t know if I buy that. Sean?

    I don’t understand how Glendale and Burbank are so relatively crime free – and their city streets are so pothole free – and there’s very few homeless – maybe because they don’t spend all their money on social welfare and spend them on essential services instead?

    Or, it could be that they’re exponentially smaller outlying areas with completely different demographics and their own types of crime? Either way, the LAFD is extremely responsive so it’s not as black and white as who’s spending money where.

  7. It is legal to carry concealed when trying to preserve your property or carry out a lawful arrest.

    No, it isn’t. There are gray areas that could be used in court to get you out of prison but in Los Angeles, if you carry concealed without a license and an officer finds out you will be arrested on the spot and your gun confiscated and you will spend hours in custody arguing with people who don’t think you should be allowed to even own a gun in the city.

  8. Wait, wait, wait… did you just say freebasing?

    Indeed. But in retrospect, it was actually probably heroin since he was rocking a handful of foil and a tube rather than a glass pipe.

  9. Depending on what you’re reporting…tell the dispatcher…“I heard gunfire” or …“I think I saw a gun”.

    You’ll have a cruiser at your door within 5mins.

  10. What’s really frustrating is tailing criminals on a Friday evening and trying to get through to both 911 and directly to the Northeast LAPD station and getting no answer from both after 30 minuets.

  11. While I can’t speak for our friends at Parker Center, I can assure you that Neighborhood Firefighters and Paramedics in the City of Los Angeles are extremely sensitive to issues of responsiveness – including but not limited to the actual or perceived time it takes us to arrive to your emergency call.

    If you ever have a question or concern about what we have (or have not) been able to accomplish in addressing your emergency needs, please give us the benefit of a phone call so that we can look into the matter.

    A simple call to 3-1-1 is all it takes, and if you prefer, you can ask for me by name. I don’t work every hour of every day (it just seems like it) :)

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

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