|My Kaitlin girl.|
But first, let me tell you why we called 911. My thirteen year old daughter, Kaitlin, was walking along a street in our neighborhood when a man (she guessed early 20s) tried to pick her up. She had seen him pass by her earlier, and now he had doubled around and was stopped at the stop sign she was crossing in front of.
"You're cute," he called out to her from his car window. "How old are you?" She told him he didn't need to know.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Home," she lied as she pointed to a nearby house hoping that he'd stop talking to her if he thought her parents were close by.
"Do you want a ride?"
Even though she refused his offer, he was insistent that he could give her a ride to where she was going. Several times he tried to convince her to let him give her a ride and each time she refused. Fortunately a truck pulled up behind him and he had to move on, but not before he told her to meet him at the park.
She was pretty shook up about it all night.
When she told me what happened, it occurred to me that we should report it. And then I thought it was probably just a young guy who was having some fun flirting with a pretty girl he thought was older than she really is. Because, let's face it, she looks older than thirteen and she's a cutie patootie.
His behavior was not okay. Especially when she said no and he kept insisting he give her a ride. Kaitlin was scared by it! All night long she was shaking. And it could have been something more sinister than just flirting. You never know. There are crazies out there.
We reported it.
After giving details to the 911 dispatch, an officer came to our house and listened to her story. When she was done he said that she didn't do anything wrong and that she was right to report it even if it was some stupid guy just having some misguided fun. Bottom line: if she felt threatened, she should report it.
"Don't ever be afraid to call 911 if you feel threatened," he said.
And then he recommended something interesting. Something I had never heard before. He told her that if it ever happens again and she has her phone with her, she should call 911 and act like she's calling her mom.
He said the conversation would go something like this:
Dispatcher: "911 dispatch, what's your emergency?"
Kaitlin: "Hi mom!"
Dispatcher: "Are you aware that you just called 911 dispatch?"
Kaitlin: "Yep, mom. I am."
At which point the dispatcher will know that she's not able to talk freely and will begin asking her questions which she could answer as if talking to her mom, yet still communicate what the dispatcher needs to know.
Hopefully the threatening person will have gone away, dissuaded by her phone call to her "mom." But whether the threat is still there or not, the 911 call will be immediate - not after she's gotten home, called both her parents and told them the whole story, and after deliberations whether to call or not, because by that time the offending person is long gone.
Instead, if she calls 911 while it's happening, the dispatcher can send a squad car to the area immediately. The offending person will still be in the area and the chances of them being found are greater.
Of course if a phone is not available - and even when it is - drawing people's attention to you is always a good idea. Yell loudly, make a scene. Tell the guy to get lost. Be rude. Get people to notice your distress. Anyone with bad intentions will not want the attention and will leave.
In any case, I thought that the officer's advice on the 911 call to dispatch and talking like it's a call to mom was interesting. I'd never heard that before, but it makes sense. I thought I would share.
Have you had any close encounters? Any helpful tips for these types of situations? I'd love to know your stories.
And because I always enjoy a good laugh, here's a few funny 911 calls, not to be confused with the serious 911 calls mentioned above.
** update: 7/24/2014 **
The wife of a dispatcher shared this info with her husband and when I asked her what he said about it, she replied:
"it would depend on the dispatcher who answered, hopefully most would recognize what was going on but unfortunately some of the people in that job aren't as sharp as they should be. (Not being mean, just the truth.) His one coworker who I shared it with said he was familiar with it and had used variations of it in the past. It is probably always worth a shot."So, be aware that it might be something that our local dispatchers are trained for. Dispatchers in other areas may or may not be trained to respond this way. If not trained this way, it would depend, then, on whether the dispatcher is perceptive enough to pick up on it.