February 25, 2015 4:59 pm ET
Desk officers’ says all cars tied up on emergencies | can’t help | “we are not a cab service”
Early this morning, I received a call from the former Police Community Relations Council President Jim O’Toole. Jim was upset as he told me about the call he had received from his daughter, whose vehicle broke down on 695 just past the Key Bridge headed toward Dundalk.
Jim told me that he hated to bother me on such short notice, but his own vehicle was also broken down and he needed my help. I told Jim that I would call 9-1-1 to seek help due to the fact that the woman had a baby with her in a stranded vehicle in such cold weather.
Folks, as you can tell from the headline, the experience was not pleasant at the least.
When I called the county 9-1-1 service, I was told that the area where the car broke down was not their jurisdiction, as the State Police cover that area. The operator did transfer me to the State Police, though.
The State Police operator told me that the area in question was not their jurisdiction either, and I was transferred to the Maryland Transportation Police. (I want to say that all of the operators were very professional, and—speaking from experience—jurisdiction does matter.)
While this was going on, Mr. O’Toole’s daughter managed to get the vehicle started again, so she attempted to get off the beltway and on to North Point Blvd. Mr. O’Toole’s daughter got as far as the North Point Plaza Flea Market on North Point Blvd., but her truck broke down again in the southbound lane. Again, with the truck not running, there was no heat in the vehicle. She pulled over to the shoulder of the road and was trying to phone someone for assistance.
I received another phone call from Mr. O’Toole that his daughter had moved from her original location. I told him to contact the County’s 9-1-1 service and relay the new location. After all, this was definitely now in the County Police jurisdiction.
And that, folks, is when the words “protect and serve” went out the window.
Mr. O’Toole called me back and said that he contacted the North Point Precinct, where he spoke to a different desk officer. Said desk officer told Mr. O’Toole that nobody could help because all of the patrol cars were tied up on emergencies.
All of the patrol cars were tied up at that exact moment? I was finding that a little hard to swallow, so I told Jim that I would call the precinct.
When I called, the desk officer (whose name I will withhold at this time) told me that there was a hostage situation going on, so no cars were available. I asked him if that meant all of the precinct’s cars were on that call, which set off a heated exchange between myself and the desk officer. That exchange had the following statement:
“We are not a cab service.”
Now, I was not asking for a patrol car to give someone a ride to the mall because there was a sale. Nor was I asking that the patrol car chauffer the young woman and her baby around town on a sight-seeing tour.
Simply put, I was concerned about the baby being out in the cold, and I relayed that information. How many times have we heard stories about a baby getting seriously injured because of exposure to the elements? I wasn’t about to let this child freeze to death because nobody wanted to help.
That is when the desk officer bluntly stated, “The baby won’t freeze to death.”
I felt like asking him what medical school he attended.
“I can send up a car to call a cab for her,” the desk officer concluded. At that point, not knowing how long that would take, or how long the mother and baby had been out in the cold with no heat, I said I would do it myself.
To say that I was livid at that point would be an understatement.
I then called the 9-1-1 service again and spoke of my frustration with the lack of response from the Precinct 12 desk officer. The operator was going to transfer me back to the precinct, but I abruptly said not to bother, since I had just gotten off the phone with the precinct and would handle the situation myself.
Before hanging up, I did say that I wanted the operator to pass on information about the situation to the Chief. I also mentioned that I was going to write about this issue, because this kind of crap has to stop.
Recently, I wrote about a similar issue in which desk personnel brushed off a witness to a major crime. I also wrote about my own encounters and problems that I have had with local drug dealers, as well as the suspicion that my truck was vandalized by Verizon cable workers. (Blogger’s note: On that one, I was told by then Captain Butch Willison that this was “investigated thoroughly.” I’m beginning to wonder about that, and I think I might ask for a copy of the “thorough investigation” … if, in fact, one even exists.
In all of the above situations, the police were of no help. On that issue alone I could go on for quite a while, let alone regarding similar issues involving other citizens who call me on a regular basis.
What makes my blood boil is that, on the way over to assist the mother and baby, I saw a marked police vehicle westbound on North Point Road turning onto German Hill Road.
As I pulled up to the disabled truck and told the woman that I came to help at her father’s request, I noticed an unmarked police vehicle driving southbound. The uniformed officer never even glanced over toward my location.
So much for all of those vehicles being tied up at that moment.
I asked the mother how long she had been without heat, and she said about two and half hours. She also told me that three marked county police cars had passed her while she sat there. I asked her if she was sure that they were county cars, and she replied, “I think I know what a county police car looks like.”
On the way home, I saw another marked unit on Merritt Blvd. coming off of German Hill Road. By my count, that’s six police vehicles in the immediate area of the stranded motorist that failed to help.
Tell me again how, according to the desk officer, everyone was tied up at that time?
Interestingly enough, there is a meeting at the Sparrows Point CC tomorrow at 7:30 am, where the new Captain will outline his plans for the precinct.
You can bet I will be there with my camera, tape recorder, and note pad.
I guess the newscast I watched the other night, which featured a State Police spokesman saying that the police would be on the lookout for motorists in need of help, didn’t apply to Baltimore County.
Protect and serve indeed…