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  1. #1
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Angry OK, I'm a Dumbass & Fell for the 911 Operator's Crap

    Was on my way back home tonight, when I got behind the dirty red-looking SUV who was having trouble maintaining one ROAD, much less one lane... so I slow down and I follow it for a while to see what he's gonna do...

    Wasn't too long before I found out: Turned north from 635 onto Central, and tried to take the concrete guardrail with him (no kidding - within 3 inches of a major crackup trying to navigate the "High Five", our nickname for a new tangle of modern engineering complexity in high-rise parking lots)... so I get on the phone with 911.

    Rather than listen to 911's 5-minute speil I talk over her and state the obvious: Idiot in an SUV having extreme problems trying to maintain the roadway. License 79W-BR4... Northbound 75 at Spring Valley. Oops he almost ran into another car, then overcorrected and almost hit the one on the other side.

    "Sir, are you following him"?

    "Yep, he's not going that fast".

    "Sir, we would rather you didn't follow him"

    "But there are no Police Cars in the area!!!!"

    "Sir, if he has an accident you would be liable for any wrecks he may cause. I'll put out a broadcast"

    So like a DUMMY I said "ok, he's at Beltline now, still NB on 75, middle lane" and broke it off.

    Then after I took a side street, it occured to me - She didn't have the authority to tell me to call it off, and they were probably just following a CYA script to limit liability

    So next time I'm not listening to a DAMN thing they say, and I'm following that MoFo till he parks it, I don't give a shit what they tell me to do.

    Comments?
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 02-14-07 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Removed comment about 911 operators - Was really aimed at policy-makers, not the 911 operators themselves.

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  2. #2
    BabyGirl is offline Rookie
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    I've dealt with a snotty dispatcher from my city dept. a few times. I've called in 3 to 4 times in the 16 years I have lived in my city ( which is all of about 28'000) and she has been a bitch each time. If her job is such a bother, she needs to get another one.

  3. #3
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    I guess I would have probably hung with the guy too....


    Anyone care to explain how TXCharlie would have been liable..? I'm not following it.

    As long as a non-leo doesn't get involved beyond calling dispatch...I don't see how they'd be "liable" if the guy they're calling in wrecks...?

    But yeah, I think I would have stayed with him. And called in updates if necessary.
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

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  4. #4
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    That's what I figured... As long as I hang back out of range of the sheet metal flying through the air after he hits something

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  5. #5
    Operator13's Avatar
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    So you're upset because the 911 operator was doing their job and trying to save you from getting wrapped up in a ****storm?

    We have people give us a good description but my concern is for the SAFETY of the caller. Call in an erratic driver but after that keep your distance for your own well being.

    What if that person noticed you following them? Could a confrontation develop? Could you be at risk for injury?

    This situation could turn ugly in any number of ways. Just give the info to the Operator and let them follow their protocalls.

    Perhaps there were no cars within a reasonable distance. If something were to happen you would be left high & dry all by your lonesome. Perhaps they already had numerous calls and were vectoring cars to intercept.

    Let the Police & the Operators do their job. You following every erratic driver you see can only end poorly.

    Respectfully submitted for your consideration, Op13.



    <Sorry just noticed this was Ask a Cop but I don't want to delete>
    Last edited by Operator13; 02-14-07 at 01:12 AM.
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  6. #6
    Jackalope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator13 View Post
    You following every erratic driver you see can only end poorly.
    I've called in and followed three suspected drunk drivers in my life, and every time the police got them stopped. In at least two of those cases, there's no way that the driver would have been stopped (other than by dumb luck) if I hadn't been following and giving the dispatcher their location. Nothing bad happened in any of those cases, so it's a little ridiculous to say that it can "only end poorly."

    Certainly something could happen to the person following, but I'd bet against it every time. It's a lot more likely that something bad would happen to an innocent driver that doesn't see the drunk coming. Most drunks know they're drunk, don't want to get caught, and "just want to get home." Even if they're coherent enough to notice a car following them, they have much more to lose by stopping and confronting that driver than they do trying to get home before the police catch up.

    Without a complaintant following, it's very unlikely that a driver will end up getting stopped. There are too many exits and too few cops.
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
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  7. #7
    Iron Man's Avatar
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    oh well you called it in and did you part. dont sweat it. if he was going to wreck and kill someone you could not stop it by following them anyway. fuck it
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  8. #8
    Operator13's Avatar
    Operator13 is offline Just Another Voice
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackalope View Post
    I've called in and followed three suspected drunk drivers in my life, and every time the police got them stopped. In at least two of those cases, there's no way that the driver would have been stopped (other than by dumb luck) if I hadn't been following and giving the dispatcher their location. Nothing bad happened in any of those cases, so it's a little ridiculous to say that it can "only end poorly."

    .
    I guess my situation is a little different than a typical 911 Operator. We cover 525 miles of restricted roadway. I work the midnight shift and we get a fair amout of erratic driving complaints. Our reality is that quite often there isn't a car anywhere near the reporting party. For obvious reasons I can't say how many miles each car is assigned to cover but you can be sure it's a lot.

    There have been times people have called back 2-3 times with "updates" but I still don't have a car anywhere near them. You can hear the frustration in their voice but I can't say "Look my closest car is X miles away heading in the opposite direction already on a vehicle stop".

    I would say on average we "Catch" few of erratic drivers called in. That also includes when the patrol is able to catch up to the offending vehicle but doesn't observe any erratic behavoir.

    Not to change the subject but my "favorite" calls are when people say "He keeps cutting me off!" Um, excuse me. If someone cuts me off once I let them stay ahead of me and don't go trying to get ahead of them. I wonder how someone can cut you off more than once unless both parties are involved in aggressive driving.
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  9. #9
    TXCOP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator13 View Post
    What if that person noticed you following them? Could a confrontation develop? Could you be at risk for injury?
    Well, I'm guessing a confrontation with TXCharlie would end like this, "Bang" followed quickly with "Bang, bang, bang."
    "Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you.
    He is training with minimum food or water, in austere conditions, day and night.
    The only thing clean on him is his weapon.
    He doesn't worry about what workout to do---his rucksack weighs what it weighs, and he runs until the enemy stops chasing him.
    The True Believer doesn't care "how hard it is"; he knows he either wins or he dies.
    He doesn't go home at 1700; he is home.
    He knows only the Cause.
    Now, who wants to quit?"

    "I am only one, but I am one. I can not do everything, but I can do something. And because I can not do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do I should do. And what I should do, by the Grace of God, I will do."

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  10. #10
    Star Man's Avatar
    Star Man is offline Guns only have two enemies; rust and politicians
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post
    I guess I would have probably hung with the guy too....


    Anyone care to explain how TXCharlie would have been liable..? I'm not following it.

    As long as a non-leo doesn't get involved beyond calling dispatch...I don't see how they'd be "liable" if the guy they're calling in wrecks...?

    But yeah, I think I would have stayed with him. And called in updates if necessary.
    Not liable here.

    Trying to help LEO by calling in a drunk driver is not something that a citizen can be held liable for. The only exception is if the person calling in was "harrassing" the other driver (ie domestic / stalking / etc) and they were using the police as a tool to harass the other driver. As long as the person is really driving poorly then there is no problems.

    It falls in the same area as the Good Samaritin laws in FL. If you stop to help an injured motorist or person (ie crash scene/heart attack in mall/choking on food) and they say that you exaserbated the injury you are covered in any civil lawsuit should they try to file one. The samaritin has to act according to what any reasonable person would do however. Don't jerk on a crash victims neck etc if it's not immediately necessary to get them out of a burning car or such.
    ...........................................

  11. #11
    Star Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokerress View Post
    Well i do not try to stop the subjs from following..I just advise them to stay a safe distance back and i keep them on the phone to get all the information i can..I do advise them not to make it obvious that they are following the crazy driver so we want have road rage or a confrontation to occur.
    Thats what they do here, and we try to catch up to the driver if a cars available.
    ...........................................

  12. #12
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    After listening to my DVR, I realized that I asked the "fatal question" after the Operator said "Are you following?"... I said something like "Yeah, do you want me to? They're not going that fast".

    Ok, like I said, I was a dumbass... I should have never asked that question!!!

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  13. #13
    jdb91's Avatar
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    I don't see how TXCharlie would be liable for a crash but following at a safe distance is not too much to ask. What if the same drunk continues on down the road after you "stop following" and goes head on with another vehicle? You as a civilian would still be the only other person in the area to help. We usually have the cell callers follow and then put their flashers on when they get near us so we can spot them. Our cell callers also get rewarded if the call produces a conviction for OWI.

  14. #14
    Terminator's Avatar
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    Not liable in N.C. either. Witnesses/complainants following drunk or reckless drivers (as much as possible) is typical here.

    On the other hand, as Iron Man said, you aren't going to stop the drunk driver from wrecking by following him either.

    And now, to poke fun at Chuck:

    Quote Originally Posted by TxCharlie
    So like a DUMMY I said "ok, he's at Beltline now, still NB on 75, middle lane" and broke it off.

    - She didn't have the authority to tell me to call it off...
    Were you in pursuit Chuck?

  15. #15
    Piggybank Cop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCOP View Post
    Well, I'm guessing a confrontation with TXCharlie would end like this, "Bang" followed quickly with "Bang, bang, bang."
    There is a billboard outside a town in Texas:

    We donít call 911;
    we take care of it ourselves.

    We are the thin blue line
    between you
    and all the money in the world.

    And no you can't have any.

  16. #16
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    The liability is in telling a citizen to continue following, and then it lands on the shoulders of the Calltaker. You just admitted you asked if you should keep following, which then put her in the position of telling you not to, otherwise your widow could sue the agency for putting you in danger.

    What if you continued following, but there was an armed robbery with multiple fatalities that tied up all available units? Should we tie up a 911 line, knowing there is no one clear?

    We walk a fine line every day, trying to keep the public safe.
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  17. #17
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    Not liable in N.C. either. Witnesses/complainants following drunk or reckless drivers (as much as possible) is typical here.

    On the other hand, as Iron Man said, you aren't going to stop the drunk driver from wrecking by following him either.

    And now, to poke fun at Chuck:
    Were you in pursuit Chuck?
    Yeah, at a top speed of about 50 MPH, on a freeway where everyone else was going 70 MPH
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 02-14-07 at 11:29 AM.

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  18. #18
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    I can't see how Charlie would have faced any liability for simply calling in a possible DUI and following them (absent malicious intent like stalking, as others mentioned).

    I can't even see how the police would face any liability if he'd remained on the line and kept following them. He asked the dispatcher; all she had to say was "I can't tell you whether or not to do so; you'll have to decide if you can do so safely." After all, it's routine for the dispatcher in some situations (which are a whole lot more dangerous than following a possible drunk!) to ask the caller to remain on the line until the police get there.

    That said -- realistically, there aren't a lot of times when we've had callers successfully report drunks and us catch them. The info usually just gets put out as a lookout unless the caller is still following... The odds are just slim that someone'll be in place to catch them (but I did get a good one that way once!).

  19. #19
    Willowdared's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jks9199 View Post
    After all, it's routine for the dispatcher in some situations (which are a whole lot more dangerous than following a possible drunk!) to ask the caller to remain on the line until the police get there.
    If I know there is a deputy in position, dispatched, and on the way, then I would absolutely keep an RP who is following on the line. I've had more then one driver nabbed that way.

    The problem is when there is no one going....can I in good conscious allow someone to endanger themselves? The RP gets mad because no one can get there, they want to stay on the line, because that will make someone get there. Then the 911 alarm tone starts going off, because there are no Calltakers clear to answer.

    I really don't think it's fair to second guess anyone, you do the best you can based on what's happening.
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  20. #20
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    The problem is when there is no one going....can I in good conscious allow someone to endanger themselves? The RP gets mad because no one can get there, they want to stay on the line, because that will make someone get there. Then the 911 alarm tone starts going off, because there are no Calltakers clear to answer.

    I really don't think it's fair to second guess anyone, you do the best you can based on what's happening.
    You did bring up a good point... If the caller (in a case like this) is tying up a 911 line or the dispatcher/call taker is needed for other calls -- they should absolutely be told that they can hang up, then disconnected. But, generally, in my area, if the caller is on the line, someone will be heading towards them. The dispatchers will get rid of them if they don't have anyone to send. (Hopefully without telegraphing that everyone's busy... Lots of reasons not to do that.) We also have the *77 feature where callers on the highway don't tie up a 911 dispatcher.

    I deliberately witheld a few second-guessing comments, precisely because I don't know what else might have been going on. However, if things are busy -- "Thanks for the information; we'll notify the guys on the streets" comes across a lot better than an order to a caller to stop following someone. How can you enforce that order? What if they're "just going home" and it happens to be the same way? Do they have to stop, pull over, shut off their lights and wait 5 minutes before starting to drive again?

 

 
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