Unfortunately, nearly 10 million men and women per year in the United States become victims of domestic violence. Police dispatchers take calls from victims every day, but a particular call stood out to one man working the graveyard shift. In October 2014, a police dispatcher answered a phone call that started out fairly routinely, but became a bit strange after the first few moments. He posted the entire exchange in a Reddit thread titled “911 operators, what is that 1 call that you could never forget?”
Here’s the entire conversation between the dispatcher and the woman on the phone:
“911, where is your emergency?”
“123 Main St.”
“Ok, what’s going on there?”
“I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.” (oh great, another prank call).
“Ma’am, you’ve reached 911”
“Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?”
“Ummm…. I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?”
“Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”
“Ok, Ma’am, is everything ok over there? do you have an emergency?”
“Yes, I do.”
“..And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?” (moment of realization)
“Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?”
“I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?”
“Can you stay on the phone with me?”
“Nope. See you soon, thanks”
And here’s a more detailed explanation from the dispatcher:
As we dispatch the call, I check the history at the address, and see there are multiple previous domestic violence calls. The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and boyfriend was drunk. Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been beating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick. Definitely one of the most memorable calls.
Weisinger said the woman seemed calm initially, but then gave short, frantic responses. “I remember feeling relieved we had an officer close by who could respond quickly,” he added.
However, he said he unfortunately never found out what happened to the woman after she made the phone call.
“This is a part of the job most 911 dispatchers find frustrating. Beyond the immediate resolution – arrest, hospitalisation, etc – we rarely hear what happens to the people who call.”
Weisinger said that usually, the only way officers and police dispatchers know what happened with a domestic violence victim is if they make it a point to stay in touch with them afterwards.
“I would say 90% of the calls that involved an emergency situation like this were husbands or boyfriends being violent towards significant others. I bring this up because when a female caller seems distressed, experience would guide my questions differently than a distressed male caller. So when I first sensed something wrong with this caller, my first thought was a domestic disturbance,” Weisinger said.
Weisinger said that even though he helped in this situation, he gives the credit to the caller for her creativity and bravery.
“Whether she had thought of this trick before, or it just came to her,” he said, “she indicated the urgency of her situation without giving away the true purpose of her call.”
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the 24-hour U.K. National Domestic Violence helpline free on 0808 2000 247, or in the U.S. at 1-800-799-7233.