Dialing 911 is Always Risky

You’ve injured yourself and need to get to the emergency room immediately, who do you call? You’ve come across somebody who is obviously distressed and could be suicidal, who do you call? I’d guess that most people would answer with 911. However, dialing 911 in these situations is risky because you can’t be sure if the dispatcher will send medical professionals or an asshole with a badge and a hankering to inflict some violence:

De’Andra Walker, a youth counselor at the shelter, Brittany’s Place, said she called dispatch on Dec. 1 for an ambulance to take the girl to a hospital because she had been cutting herself with a metal object and refused to cooperate with a “safety plan” that would have allowed her to stay.

The counselor called for an ambulance, got a police officer instead, and violence appears to have been the result. In most cases like this the accused officer will claim that they were defending themselves but in this case the officer, at least after the fact, came up with a more creative excuse:

Under questioning by Wold, Soucheray said that the “startle flinch response” is designed to fake someone out and stop them from continuing a behavior.

Of course, his claim about using a “startle flinch response” was nowhere to be found in his report:

Bates noted that in his police report, Soucheray wrote that he struck the girl — not that the girl had alleged he did so.

“…sout of natural reaction, I struck [the girl] in the face with my left hand…,” Soucheray read from his police report.

“Is that phrase [startle flinch response] anywhere in your report?” Bates asked.

“No,” Soucheray said.

So after filling out his report, which stated that he struck the girl in the face, he changed his story. Curious.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. There are plenty of stories of people in need of medical intervention calling 911, getting a police officer instead, and violence erupting. 911 operators should consider making it a standard policy to send medical teams when they’re requested instead of police officers.