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Just wow. A couple of boneheads were in my neighborhood riding their motor cycles up and down the sidewalk. Definitely annoying, and not the kind of thing I want going on around here. Rather than confront them, though, I just called the police non-emergency number. A nice guy picks up, and I described the issue . . .

“A couple boneheads are tearing up and down the sidewalk on motorcycles when there’s a perfectly good street right there…” I said.

The non-emergency respondent laughed.  “Yeah, that sounds bad. Let me connect you with 911.”

All I really wanted was a cruiser to come by and break up the party, but if a public servant deems motorcycles on the sidewalk emergent, who am I to argue with my tax dollars at work?

The phone clicks, and picks up.

“Due to call volume, all our operators are busy.  Please do not hang up…”

I don’t think I need to comment any further. But I will. I grew up in an era where it was understood that you were probably on your own for a little while until help arrived. We learned first aid. We learned fire safety (stop, drop and roll!). We learned how to swim. That’s just how it was. A home invasion in rural Missouri would not be responded to with lightning speed though I am sure the deputies wanted to with all their heart. That’s why almost everyone had a shotgun and probably why home invasions were so rare.

Here I am now, decades later, living in the city and I call 911 and don’t even get put on hold by a human. You have to love progress.

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  1. You pointed it out, but I think it bears repeating that there were two fails:
    1. People riding motorcycles on the sidewalk is not an emergency. Dangerous and stupid? Of course.
    2. All of 911’s operators were busy. What the actual fvck is going on, there?!

    • Cell phones. They’re everywhere, so one emergency is likely to be reported multiple times. Ties up the operators.

      • Or they’re all on an extended lunch break. Maybe a smoke break. Or maybe they’re having phone troubles.

        Point is: you can only rely on the cops to investigate after a crime has been committed. You can’t rely on them to protect you or arrest the perp when a crime is in progress.

    • It’s possible at that PD, the non-emergency line is just sort of a public information line and 911 handles anything requiring officers be dispatched regardless of the severity of the emergency.

      • Had this conversation with a Chicago cop, He said if you want an officer to show up, you need to call 911 even if it just someone being a nuisance.

    • “What the actual fvck is going on, there?!”

      That was exactly my first thought.

      In my defense, I called the non-emergency number. It was that guy who connected me to 911.

      • No, you weren’t being alarmist; you called the regular po-po first. But now I want to point out something that should worry St. Louis residents just a little bit: it happens often enough that they have a pre-recorded message for it. Time to get the fvck out of Dodge, Tim. Rural central Minnesota would love to have you.

  2. What city do you live in? (curious)
    I’ve had to call 911 four times in my life, always got to someone on the first ring..

  3. Think big cities have responsive 911 times? Think again…..
    October 24, 2011|By Hal Dardick | Tribune reporter

    The head of the city’s 911 center on Monday took aim at what he described as excessive absenteeism in response to critics of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to cut the ranks of emergency police and fire call handlers.

    Aldermen let Gary Schenkel, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, know they believed the plan to cut 17 jobs could delay response times and stretch ranks thin.


    • Do you know your town, city or county budget? How about your state budget? It’s okay to talk about more money, if you know what you are currently spending. If not, FTFU.

  4. Unfortunately, some/many people abuse the 911 system. There is the report of someone calling 911 to complain that the delivery man brought the wrong pizza…

  5. Without taking anything away from the seriousness of the topic, I have to say that the picture made me laugh out loud.

  6. “Due to call volume, all our operators are busy. Please do not hang up…”

    “Your call is important to us. Your call may be monitored and recorded for training or evidentiary purposes. To speak to an operator, press 0. For the medical examiner, press 1.”

  7. I can’t say that I’ve ever been put on hold with 911 before, but I have had local police transfer me to 911 on many occasions when I was trying to voice a formal complaint or warning. I will whole heartily agree with the person that said you can’t rely on police to protect you from a crime in progress. That’s why I adore civilian sheep dogs. As long as they are intelligent and responsible, then heck, we can’t have too many of them. Now if only they allowed us to step freely across all state boarders with just one permit… but that’s a topic for another time. I can go on forever, sorry.

    • Ah, man. Wu-Tang Clan Forever, yo.

      I hope we don’t have to shoot each other if we disagree, ’cause that didn’t work out so well for Biggie and Tupac.

  8. I’ve called 911 several times, mostly to report accidents on the freeway. It’s about a 50/50 chance that you will be up on hold if you do so. Amongst the othe advice listed on this site, I would add: prepare to be on put on hold when you dial 911. Not to worry, the police and fire department will eventually respond to the sounds of gunfire. If you’re being attacked by BG’s you’d best make enough noise to draw attention. You’ll be on your own for several minutes or longer, or indefinitely if you cannot complete a 91 1 call or make enough noise to be noticed. Heck, it’s enough to make a reasonable person to conclude that they are on their own when it comes to self defense.

  9. Davenport, Iowa. I’ve had to call 911 several times. Once to report a serious street fight that spilled out into my front lawn. I was notified that officers should arrive within one hour’s time. That’s when I decided that I really am on my own for HD, one hour is just too long to wait for an officer.

  10. our PD only responds to calls that put them on the front page, or enhance revenue… we are completely on our own here in communofaggua…


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