Crimewatch with Walt Candelari
‘CRY WOLF’ …. actually ‘Cry grey wolf with a limp..’
Every law enforcement agency has at least one person who meticulously monitors the neighborhood and calls whenever anything – and I do mean anything – is different. Their number pops up on the communication screen and the dispatcher answers calling them by name. If they haven’t heard from them in a day or two, they may call them to check and make sure they are ok.
In a very general estimate, for every 100 calls received from citizens, one call will result in action taken by an officer – excluding ‘hot calls’ like family violence. Our conscientious neighbor may account for about a fifth of these calls.
While it may sometimes be an issue to deal with the call from our neighbor friend when other calls are dropping and accidents being reported, it is still far better to check and find nothing than not know and have something really occur.
When you call be aware that the dispatcher needs to get information from you in addition to your name, address and number you are calling from. That person needs to assess the nature of the call and severity in order to determine who to send i.e. EMS and Fire and what warnings/ alerts need to be issued.
Normally you will be asked a series of questions, all of which are important and designed to bring the best response without endangering either the situation or responding personnel.
Questions for emergency and non-emergency calls may include:
• what is going on i.e. somebody breaking in the house next door, woman screaming for help etc.,
• the exact location as best you can give it i.e. house number, cross street
• is the crime in progress or when did it happen
• any weapons being used, displayed or accessible
•number of injured persons, types of injuries and
• vehicle information as best as you can give it i.e. license number, color, make, model, anything unusual about it i.e. damage to fender, and number of persons (you will be asked more about them)
• people involved – race, gender, age, height, weight, color of hair and length or style, clothing and anything else you may notice i.e. voice, glasses, scars. Note: when giving information on a person(s) you will normally be asked to start at the top i.e. hat/ hoodie and work your way down.
Each call and situation is different and will require information unique to that incident. Remember that the more information, the more accurate that information is, the better and safer the response will be.
Sample non-emergency calls: burglary when the suspect is gone, stolen checks/ credit cards, loud parties, minors violating curfew, auto theft/ vandalism not in progress, exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms but not presenting a danger to themselves or others.
True emergency calls to 911 can include: a fire, a crime in progress, a vehicle accident especially with injuries, a medical emergency which requires immediate medical attention. Again you will be asked questions similar to the non-emergency calls to determine what type of response/ help is needed.
DO NOT HANG UP until the dispatcher tells you to!
Remember: Think, plan and execute crime-prevention design. Don’t be a crime victim.
Walt Candelari is a crime-prevention specialist and community-policing officer with Dickinson police department.