Monday, March 22, 2010


When you dial 911 from a cell phone in Massachusetts, you get the State Police.

“911. This call is being recorded. What is your emergency?”

“No emergency. May I have the Boston Police, please?”

Here’s where it gets annoying and maybe even a little dangerous. Most dispatchers will plug you right through to whatever police department it is you’ve asked for. Others want to hear your story.

“What’s the problem, ma’am?”

I fell for this the first time it happened, prattled on with location and concerns and descriptions and caveats. Then the dude put me through to the Boston Police.

“Boston Police. This call is being recorded. What is the address of your emergency?”

And I had to repeat it all again.

Think about this: if it is an emergency and I’ve got a bullet riddled body on the floor of my kitchen, or an assailant lunging at me with a knife or someone in the vicinity who’s just had a stroke or heart attack, does it really make sense for me to be relaying the details twice, taking up twice the time during which the stroke/heart attack/gunshot/knife victim oozes her life force?

Maybe I didn’t have a time sensitive, life threatening emergency but it’s still a waste of effort and time to have to relate information to an agency or person who will then do NOTHING with that information. It’s not like it’s even a satisfying rant to complain to a Statie on the phone.

Still, this morning I did what Skip Gates and Peter Watts, and hundreds of drunken college students nation-wide obviously have no problem doing. I mouthed back to a cop. Ok, so it was from the relative safety of my anonymous cellphone and I left everyone’s mother out of it.

“Umm, do you really have to know this? I mean it’s a waste of time. The State police won’t be responding to this. Could you just put me through?”

I don’t even remember what he replied but I stood my ground and prattled on about wasting time and not relevant and having to repeat it all ‘til I wore him down. Then I told my story to the Boston dispatcher. I don’t know for sure but I hope they didn’t do nothing with it.


  1. I've never encountered that with the staties but I think it's definitely better to skip the middleman.

    The direct line to Boston 911 dispatch: 617-343-4911.

  2. I'll program that number into my phone!

  3. same thoughts, as saying "Boston Dispatch" previously worked, but now it's like I need to earn the right to have the phone call transferred.