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Thread: 911 Calls - Don't Dispatch If No Crime

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    Regular Member Chris 45LC's Avatar
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    911 Calls - Don't Dispatch If No Crime

    A year or two ago I had a phone conversation with a gentleman at the Ohio Attorney General office. The topic was in regard to how 911 operators are trained to respond to a "man with a gun" call. We all know that open carry in Ohio is legal. However, one of the biggest problems that arises with open carry is the chance of being confronted by an officer(s) because of a 911 call. Most officers prefer citizens to conceal carry because there is less chance of them having to respond to a "man with a gun" call. The real question is, since it is legal to open carry, why are the 911 operators dispatching these calls to LEOs? In my opinion, When an Ohio 911 operator gets a caller that says that they saw a man or woman with a gun, the operator should be trained to then ask the caller what is the person doing with the firearm? Just carrying it in a holster? Brandishing it? Firing it? If the answer is, He/she has it in a holster and is just carrying it, no law has been broken and police should not be informed. To dispatch an officer just for the reason that someone is legally carrying a firearm is like an officer responding to a call of a person mowing their yard or a neighbor down the street is hanging her laundry out on the clothesline. For an LEO to respond to such a call is a waste of tax payers money, waste of the officer's time and harassment of the law-abiding citizen that is legally carrying, open or concealed. All of this could be avoided if 911 operators were properly trained to know what questions to ask in regard to a "man with a gun" call and be able to determine if a law is actually being broken before dispatching an officer. With some simple emails, letters and phone calls to reps and the Ohio Attorney General to try and get the way that 911 operators handle these calls, maybe open and conceal carry could become easier for citizens as well as law enforcement.
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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    I hope this is easier to read.....

    A year or two ago I had a phone conversation with a gentleman at the Ohio Attorney General office. The topic was in regard to how 911 operators are trained to respond to a "man with a gun" call.

    We all know that open carry in Ohio is legal. However, one of the biggest problems that arises with open carry is the chance of being confronted by an officer(s) because of a 911 call.

    Most officers prefer citizens to conceal carry because there is less chance of them having to respond to a "man with a gun" call. The real question is, since it is legal to open carry, why are the 911 operators dispatching these calls to LEOs?

    In my opinion, When an Ohio 911 operator gets a caller that says that they saw a man or woman with a gun, the operator should be trained to then ask the caller what is the person doing with the firearm? Just carrying it in a holster? Brandishing it? Firing it? If the answer is, He/she has it in a holster and is just carrying it, no law has been broken and police should not be informed.

    To dispatch an officer just for the reason that someone is legally carrying a firearm is like an officer responding to a call of a person mowing their yard or a neighbor down the street is hanging her laundry out on the clothesline. For an LEO to respond to such a call is a waste of tax payers money, waste of the officer's time and harassment of the law-abiding citizen that is legally carrying, open or concealed.

    All of this could be avoided if 911 operators were properly trained to know what questions to ask in regard to a "man with a gun" call and be able to determine if a law is actually being broken before dispatching an officer. With some simple emails, letters and phone calls to reps and the Ohio Attorney General to try and get the way that 911 operators handle these calls, maybe open and conceal carry could become easier for citizens as well as law enforcement.

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    Yes. It is. Whitespace is your friend.

    I don't care if police respond to a 911 call. A lot of departments have a policy to respond every time, out of fear that, the one time they don't, it will be an active shooter, and they will be blamed for the deaths.

    Response is OK. Even initiating a consensual encounter is OK. It is the unfounded detentions that bleep me off.

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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    911 operators/dispatchers usually do not work for police departments. I have had a number of officers complain that the 911 dispatchers feed them bad information. And when the person that is being harassed by the officer complains on how the officer treated them the officer is stuck in the middle.

    Yes, 911 operators need better training. But, once the officer realizes that a false report was made we need the officer to go charge that person with a crime of making false reports.

    I have first hand experience with this.

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Our sheriffs dept will not respond, even with shots fired they will not respond unless there is a crime. Of course with this fever pitch from DC I wouldn't be surprised if that does not change.
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    Being a dispatcher and taking calls like this....you guys live in a wishing world. There's two words that seperate us from law enforcement officers....certification and liability.

    Dispatchers are trained by the department they work for. We don't go through anything in the ORC to determine what is or is not a crime. In Ohio, we are not certified by anything in the state. We are no different than a garbage collector, heck, they probably have more regulations than we have. What's our job? Take the call, dispatch an officer. We have no other job. We do not determine legality of anything as well, we have no legal training or certification such as officers receive in the academy.

    Now, some departments may determine how calls are handled. An easier example, vehicle lockous. Probably half the deparments in the state respond, the other half say call a locksmith. That's a simple task to make a policy for. Now, how do you make a policy for a man with a gun? Yes, there are certain questions that can probably be asked that will help responding officers determine how they wish to respond, but once a call is received, if we make a judgement call and don't send someone, it's liability on me. If the department has a procedure for what to ask and if they meet X requirements nobody is sent, then that's fine. But most departments won't do that because the one time they slip up, liability is on them.

    I believe it's Minnesota is the only state that has statewide certification for dispatchers. And they are trained on the basics of law. Contact your representative and attempt to pass that. However, I doubt it would ever occur as the cost would be way to high to send every dispatcher through a class now so you'd have to grandfather many in which would just result in the problem not being fixed for about 20 years.

    So the big thing is, have dispatchers trained in the ORC, and then we'll talk. Till then, it's not going to happen.

    Here's another way to think of it. What's the crime for leaving a backpack on the ground at the Boston Marathon with thousands of people around but nobody directly next to it? Since that's no crime, why dispatch anyone? Think of it that way.
    Last edited by JediSkipdogg; 04-18-2013 at 12:57 AM.

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    Regular Member Chris 45LC's Avatar
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    Thanks for the firsthand info Jedi. I understand the liability issues involved and I'm sure that is the reason. However, my point is that a law-abiding citizen wearing a gun on his/her hip in Ohio is no more illegal than wearing a cell phone and if no crime is being committed, LEOs should not have to respond. I suppose, this day and age, if police get a call of a man wearing a backpack in town, they would have to respond. 40 years ago, police would've said "so what" and hung up the phone. Times have changed...
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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Experienced dispatchers do have a working knowledge of what is and is not a crime, unless they are idiots. They also have supervisors, I have been LEO and dispatched and supervised. They are under no liability to act, they may be fired if they do not act, or act irresponsibly but I am aware of no law making them civilly or criminally liable for the acts of others. Dispatchers and police are not liable for public safety, and if they were they could not handle it, it just is not possible. So dispatching police to non crimes for just doing it is not only ignorant, it is a waste of tax payer dollars, and takes resources from actual incidents of crime.

    The general public that does not own guns, or are antis use the positions they have to harass law abiding armed citizens, that is the problem, that is why officers are dispatched. All many people are culpable in this from the dispatchers, to the supervisors, to the people making the calls. It is nothing but harassment.
    Last edited by WalkingWolf; 04-18-2013 at 10:22 AM.
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    that is a good point. i don't care if they have to check it out if i am not doing anything illegal then they shouldn't harass me just because they are too lazy to do the right thing, or are too scared (then they shouldn't be police persons)

    i will go another route too though and say i hope they do waste a lot of money on these calls. like i said first LEOs are lazy that is why they become LEOs. if they get enough of these calls they will stop harassing honest citizens

    of course i would still want them to check out carriers just like i would want them to check out drivers for bad driving. but just like driving if you are not doing anything wrong don't pull them over. when was the last time you seen someone who was obeying the law get pulled
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    Experienced dispatchers do have a working knowledge of what is and is not a crime, unless they are idiots. They also have supervisors, I have been LEO and dispatched and supervised. They are under no liability to act, they may be fired if they do not act, or act irresponsibly but I am aware of no law making them civilly or criminally liable for the acts of others. Dispatchers and police are not liable for public safety, and if they were they could not handle it, it just is not possible. So dispatching police to non crimes for just doing it is not only ignorant, it is a waste of tax payer dollars, and takes resources from actual incidents of crime.

    The general public that does not own guns, or are antis use the positions they have to harass law abiding armed citizens, that is the problem, that is why officers are dispatched. All many people are culpable in this from the dispatchers, to the supervisors, to the people making the calls. It is nothing but harassment.

    Police are immune, dispatchers are not. The immunity police have received has come from case law all the way up to the Supreme Court. So far, a dispatcher hasn't made it that far and I've taken enough courses that have showed dispatchers and departments sued and losing to not risk the chance.

    There's a huge case from out west about ten years ago of a dispatcher failing to obtain the proper information on a highway sign about to fall down. Low and behold, she gave the officer basic info and he checked the wrong sign. The sign fell and killed a motorist in their vehicle. The dispatcher and department was subsequently sued for failing to take the call serious enough (one call and the caller stated he was an engineer on vacation.)

    Nobody calls the police for a man with a cell phone. Why? Because the public are EDUCATED. Everyone always wants to educate the police. Why not educate the public? If someone calls for a 12 year old riding his bike at 3am, we dispatch an officer. If someone calls seeing a backpack laying outside a business, we dispatch an officer. Someone calling of a MWAG is no different. We don't see the person, therefore we can't make the ultimate judgement of what they are doing is legal or not. Let the officer drive by and make the determination. What he does is on him. If he sees no crime, which is what we have happen over 90% of the time for a wreckless operator at 4am, then he just continues on. So, get the officers trained to just observe and educate the public to not call. Buy a billboard for a month that says open carry is legal. Cause guess what, I bet if you did a poll of the residents of Ohio, the majority would say it's illegal, hence why they are calling.

    Job of a dispatcher is to take the call, prioritize it, and dispatch it. That's it, not determine legality.
    Last edited by JediSkipdogg; 04-18-2013 at 02:16 PM.

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Provide cites please?
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    Quote Originally Posted by joanie View Post
    Courts have rulled, several times that police are not obligated to stop a crime. Far as dispatchers, I have heard of cases where they would get repremanded or fired, even sued for not taking a 911 call seriouslly. These cases had nothing to do with open carry, but rather real emergencys. Let me see if I can dig one up from memory.

    Arrested for 911 Call- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UrmnS60420
    I also have heard of dispatchers fired, and every case was for a real emergency, not the case of a non crime. Harnett County does not, unless things have changed over the years, dispatch for MWAG, or even shots fired. It is legal to shoot a firearm in the County, and they will tell callers exactly that on the phone. I have had people come up to me and complain that Harnett dispatchers dissed them when they made these calls. They will take any information that is given them, if they have time, but it ends there. Had a guy from PA a few months back complain to me that Harnett would not send a deputy or animal control out for a loose dog, it is legal in the county for dogs to run loose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    I also have heard of dispatchers fired, and every case was for a real emergency, not the case of a non crime. Harnett County does not, unless things have changed over the years, dispatch for MWAG, or even shots fired. It is legal to shoot a firearm in the County, and they will tell callers exactly that on the phone. I have had people come up to me and complain that Harnett dispatchers dissed them when they made these calls. They will take any information that is given them, if they have time, but it ends there. Had a guy from PA a few months back complain to me that Harnett would not send a deputy or animal control out for a loose dog, it is legal in the county for dogs to run loose.
    So me sitting behind a desk can tell what and what is not a crime? If you are willing to pay my pension and my salary the rest of my life, I will gladly never dispatch a MWAG call. After all, it's not illegal to hold a gun in your hand inside Kroger. It's only illegal if you point it at someone. Right?

    Location has alot to do with it too. You will find police are totally different in Adams County with regards to firearms than say Hamilton County. Laws are the same for both, one is norm, the other is not. People call for non-norm. If I heard shots fired at my current house, I'd call 911. In three months when I move 5 miles north of where I live, if I hear shots fired I'm going next door with my range bag to join in the fun.
    Last edited by JediSkipdogg; 04-18-2013 at 04:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JediSkipdogg View Post
    So me sitting behind a desk can tell what and what is not a crime? If you are willing to pay my pension and my salary the rest of my life, I will gladly never dispatch a MWAG call. After all, it's not illegal to hold a gun in your hand inside Kroger. It's only illegal if you point it at someone. Right?

    Location has alot to do with it too. You will find police are totally different in Adams County with regards to firearms than say Hamilton County. Laws are the same for both, one is norm, the other is not. People call for non-norm. If I heard shots fired at my current house, I'd call 911. In three months when I move 5 miles north of where I live, if I hear shots fired I'm going next door with my range bag to join in the fun.
    Carrying a handgun in a holster openly displayed IS legal in this state. If it is not a crime, it is not a crime. In my county discharging a firearm is not a crime, it is that simple. How did porky pig say it? "Th-Th-That's all folks!"

    Actually in my state holding a handgun in hand in Krogers would be GATTOP. Where were we talking about brandishing?
    Last edited by WalkingWolf; 04-18-2013 at 04:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediSkipdogg View Post
    Police are immune, dispatchers are not. The immunity police have received has come from case law all the way up to the Supreme Court. So far, a dispatcher hasn't made it that far and I've taken enough courses that have showed dispatchers and departments sued and losing to not risk the chance....
    Immunity for a police officer? I don't think so. Qualified immunity, it all depends.
    The Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons … against unreasonable searches and seizures” generally requires a law enforcement officer to have probable cause for conducting a search. “Probable cause exists where ‘the facts and circumstances within [an officer’s] knowledge and of which [he] had reasonably trustworthy information [are] sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that’ an offense has been or is being committed,” Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 175–176 (1949) (quoting Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 162 (1925) ), and that evidence bearing on that offense will be found in the place to be searched.
    Above I stated that "I have first hand experience with this." That first hand experience resulted in:

    http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/police/...F0/showMeta/0/

    In part:
    Many people worry when they see someone openly carrying a gun. Officers can expect to receive calls when this happens. But, openly carrying a firearm, by itself, is not illegal. The fact that someone has called 911 or flagged down an officer about seeing someone with a gun in public is probably not enough to support an investigative detention. In such situations, an officer must observe the subject and evaluate the totality of circumstances to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to justify detaining the individual. If the individual is doing nothing else that arouses suspicion, simply wearing a gun will not justify a detention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    Carrying a handgun in a holster openly displayed IS legal in this state. If it is not a crime, it is not a crime. In my county discharging a firearm is not a crime, it is that simple. How did porky pig say it? "Th-Th-That's all folks!"

    Actually in my state holding a handgun in hand in Krogers would be GATTOP. Where were we talking about brandishing?
    Well, Ohio there is no such thing as Brandishing. So holding a gun in your hand is not a crime. Possibly inducing panic but how am I to determine what inducing panic is over the phone?



    Color of Law, and to get to your last paragraph, that requires a dispatch. Hence what I'm getting at, send the po po, let them observe, and they can make the call. If they detain, that's on them. We dispatch for wreckless operators all the time and the officers observe and make a determination after that if a crime has been committed. This is no different and how it should be. Send the officer and let him decide.

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediSkipdogg View Post
    Well, Ohio there is no such thing as Brandishing. So holding a gun in your hand is not a crime. Possibly inducing panic but how am I to determine what inducing panic is over the phone?



    Color of Law, and to get to your last paragraph, that requires a dispatch. Hence what I'm getting at, send the po po, let them observe, and they can make the call. If they detain, that's on them. We dispatch for wreckless operators all the time and the officers observe and make a determination after that if a crime has been committed. This is no different and how it should be. Send the officer and let him decide.
    If you are a dispatcher I would think ASK. As far as being held liable I would think if a police officer was wasting time on a lawful activity while somebody was actually in an emergency, and you wasted his time, you could be sued if it was possible to sue.

    Don't they give dispatchers tests in your area to see if they are competent enough to do the job? God forbid somebody is playing a flute and some citizen calls the police and you send the po po to see if a crime is being committed.
    Last edited by WalkingWolf; 04-18-2013 at 05:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediSkipdogg View Post
    Well, Ohio there is no such thing as Brandishing. So holding a gun in your hand is not a crime. Possibly inducing panic but how am I to determine what inducing panic is over the phone?



    Color of Law, and to get to your last paragraph, that requires a dispatch. Hence what I'm getting at, send the po po, let them observe, and they can make the call. If they detain, that's on them. We dispatch for wreckless operators all the time and the officers observe and make a determination after that if a crime has been committed. This is no different and how it should be. Send the officer and let him decide.
    Sounds like you know the laws pretty well for a dispatcher who isn't trained in them.

    What everyone is trying to say is that while that officer is tied up responding to a man eating lunch with a holstered firearm he is not available to respond to the 3 men who are robbing the local bank.

    If your smart enough to be able to prioritize calls then your smart enough to know when no response is needed.

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    And let's not forget endangering citizens lives while officers are responding to call where there is no emergency and there is no crime. In THIS case the dispatcher should be held liable to the full extent of the law, if innocent citizens are hurt.
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    More on qualified immunity: Read St. John v. McColley. Qualified immunity can be pierced, and the individual officers can be held liable for cash damages.

    This case was an OCer who was unlawfully seized. The case was cited by the 4th Circuit in Black just a few weeks ago, so it has punch outside of New Mexico.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    Don't they give dispatchers tests in your area to see if they are competent enough to do the job? God forbid somebody is playing a flute and some citizen calls the police and you send the po po to see if a crime is being committed.
    Yes they do give tests. And they also have policies and procedures that have been developed nationwide. If a citizen calls the police, send the police. FYI...my department policy is if someone calls to want to shake a police officer's hand, we dispatch the officer if one is available.


    Quote Originally Posted by Big Daddy XD View Post
    Sounds like you know the laws pretty well for a dispatcher who isn't trained in them.

    What everyone is trying to say is that while that officer is tied up responding to a man eating lunch with a holstered firearm he is not available to respond to the 3 men who are robbing the local bank.

    If your smart enough to be able to prioritize calls then your smart enough to know when no response is needed.
    I know the law because I study it. I also work for a smaller department and do alot more than just dispatch. I also deal with the courts quite a bit for our department. So I see alot more than other dispatchers do in many other departments.

    I understand what everyone is saying. I'm just saying the majority of dispatchers don't know what is or is not a crime. I've done the job for 8 years. Until about 5 years ago, besides underage alcohol (I previously worked campus security for 3 years) I had no clue about many laws. But you expect someone on the end of a phone to determine what a caller means. Why not hold the caller accountable? I actually see many cases of arrests all the way through. You'd be amazed at the number of suspect descriptions that look nothing like the suspect we arrest besides their clothing. Therefore, without seeing what is going on, it's hard to know how accurate the caller is.

    I took a call today for a vehicle into the center wall of I-71, pretty hard hit. Checked on the cameras on I-71, nothing showing. Should I disregard or send an officer? Send an officer, cars gone. Should we charge the caller for a false report?

    Package on your front porch delivered by UPS when you didn't order anything. What's the crime? Send the police and possible bomb squad? Or totally disregard?

    Backpack next to a garbage can at a football game. What's the crime? Send the police or totally disregard? No crime, so disregarding.

    Elementary school calls of a MWAG walking into their lobby in a business suit I'll disregard. No crime right? After all, most likely a police officer since he's in a suit so until I prove it's not a police officer, I have to hold off dispatching. Right?

    There's alot I'd love to not dispatch. There's alot that I've dispatched and seen it turn out totally different than what I thought it was. Without someone with experience and expertise having their eyes on the reason of the call, we will never know the outcome. And the first time the outcome is wrong and the tapes are played to find out 911 was called, well, that'll be the end of that person's job and the department.

    So, if someone is willing to pay my salary the rest of my life and my pension after I could retire, I'll gladly never dispatch a MWAG call or a suspicious package call or a man standing on the road taking pictures of the bank, etc. Whatever you want me to disregard, I'll gladly not dispatch. Just sign the paper accepting full liability for me. I'll have it drafted up tomorrow.
    Last edited by JediSkipdogg; 04-19-2013 at 12:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joanie View Post
    So, if someone is willing to pay my salary the rest of my life and my pension after I could retire, I'll gladly never dispatch a MWAG call or a suspicious package call or a man standing on the road taking pictures of the bank, etc. Whatever you want me to disregard, I'll gladly not dispatch. Just sign the paper accepting full liability for me. I'll have it drafted up tomorrow.

    I gather your a dispatcher on 911 calls. Let me ask you a question. If someone calls (from their home) on a sunday morning, in extreeme pain, and asks for an ambulance to take them to the hospital, would you instesd of sending an ambulance, send police? lets say these cops without consent came into the house, into the lady's bedroom, twisted her off the bed and stood on her back. Would the dispatcher be responsable for that? What if the police later denyed ever being there, would there be a record that they were? How would I request this record?
    Well, for us, police are sent with every amulance run. Actually, you want an ambulance, you get...1 fire truck, 1 ambulance, 1 police car. If the police are busy that day, they may log and not respond. That however is an officer and supervisor call.

    Is there a record? I can't say for every department, but for us, there is the record of the call received (recorded), record of the computer entry in dispatch x2 (one dispatch for fire and one dispatch for police.) If the fire is dispatched, at least if one of our ambulances responds (staffing levels are being cut in fire big time and mutual aid more heavily used lately) then the ambulance also has recording on it at all times. Some departments are going that way to 1) analzye response/ready times and 2) solve liability issues since there is a huge increase in medical/fire vehicle accidents. Since all departments are suppose to have updated software (cell phone GPS technology won't work on outdated systems), they should all have who was dispatched, time of arrival, disposition, etc.

    As for the dispatcher being liable, don't see why they would assuming they are following department guidelines. If their guidelines say send a police car if the person solely is requesting a ride to the hospital and not an immediate medical need, then sure. A city about 5 miles from ours does that. The police officers on the road are also the firefighters and EMTs. Depending on the call, an officer may respond back to the station to pick up the ambulance to respond to the scene while a second officer responds directly to the scene. If the ambulance isn't obviously needed from the call, they may transport in the back of a police car.

    How do you get the record? You have to find the information for the 911 center that took the call. Find their non-emergency number and find out their policy for requesting information. That's the easiest way to start.

  23. #23
    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JediSkipdogg View Post
    Well, for us, police are sent with every amulance run.
    Most ridicules claim I have ever heard!
    It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.
    Robert E. Lee
    The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.
    Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson
    What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.
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  24. #24
    Regular Member papa bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    Carrying a handgun in a holster openly displayed IS legal in this state. If it is not a crime, it is not a crime. In my county discharging a firearm is not a crime, it is that simple. How did porky pig say it? "Th-Th-That's all folks!"

    Actually in my state holding a handgun in hand in Krogers would be GATTOP. Where were we talking about brandishing?
    actually WOLF, it is just the opposite. in VA it is brandishing if you are holding the gun in your hand (displaying). there is a case where someone that pointed his finger at someone, while armed, is brandishing (he was acquitted). in NC you must meet the four conditions for GTTTOTP for it to apply. of course they can still arrest you for it

    like i said i have no problem with them sending a LEO, just as long as he don't take it to himself to harass the carrier, that is not breaking the law.
    now, lets say though that someone calls a man with a gun and they are heading in to rob a place. of course the dispatcher should find out if there are problems with the person. there is a difference between a man just eating his lunch and some BG doing bad
    Luke 22:36 ; 36Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

    "guns are like a Parachute, if you don't have one when you need it, you will not need one again"
    - unknown

    i you call a CHP a CCW then you are really stupid. period.

  25. #25
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    911 Calls - Don't Dispatch If No Crime

    This is the Ohio subforum. Let's keep it about Ohio law.


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