Friday, February 27, 2009

Cop arrested after 911 call by ex-wife

A woman saying she was the ex-wife of Raleigh, North Carolina Police Officer Andrew Caruana told a 911 dispatcher that her bedroom was destroyed during a fight that led to Caruana's being charged with assault.

At about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, officers answered a call about a domestic-related disturbance in an upscale apartment complex.

During the 911 call, the woman told authorities her ex-husband was assaulting a man at her apartment. The woman said part of the fight occurred in the bedroom, where she said the window was broken and her bed was destroyed. “Somebody went through the window … or fell into the window. The drywall’s broken,” she said during the call.

A young child can be heard in the background throughout the call. A man can also be heard in the background screaming expletives.

The woman told a 911 dispatcher that she and her son were hiding in the bathroom while the fight was taking place. At one point, she told the dispatcher that her ex-husband had kicked down the bathroom door. He later went outside.

As a result of the investigation stemming from the 911 call, Caruana was taken into custody Tuesday evening at police headquarters. He was charged with assault, assault by pointing a gun and communicating threats, and was transported to jail. (info from

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ohio Sherriff loses 911 lawsuit

The Ohio Fifth Circuit Court has ruled that the Delaware County commissioners have control over the county’s public safety communications system, ending an ongoing lawsuit for which the county was paying for attorneys on both sides of the dispute.

A three-judge panel ruled in favor of the commissioners this week, rejecting the arguments of attorneys representing Delaware County Sheriff Walter L. Davis III.

Former county sheriff Al Myers had sued the commissioners in October 2006 for control of the system. In his initial court filing, Myers said by denying him control, the commissioners were preventing him from performing his duty under Ohio law. The commissioners have maintained their emergency management division should have the right to administer the system.

Davis inherited the lawsuit after he was appointed to office in 2007 and decided to continue forward with it. As with Davis, none of the three current commissioners were in office when the lawsuit was initially filed.

Commissioner Todd Hanks said the court’s ruling “vindicated” the board. “It’s my position that the stance taken by the previous administration was the correct position,” Hanks said. “The only ones who have made out here in the long run are the lawyers.”

The county prosecutor’s office usually represents county entities in legal matters, but it asked to be taken off the case in order to avoid a conflict of interest since the office represents both the sheriff and the commissioners.

The appeals court agreed with that request, ordering an outside law firm to be assigned as special prosecutor for the sheriff, and that the firm be paid $150 an hour for its services. The court at that time also appointed a firm to represent the commissioners at $200 an hour. The court at that time further ordered that the commissioners pay for all legal expenses in the case, including the sheriff’s.

The county has since paid just over $142,600 in legal fees associated with the case, according to public records requests.

Monday’s ruling ordered that the costs be equally shared by both sides.

Davis, who had argued that the sheriff’s office was best equipped to manage emergency communication, said that he believed the resolution to the case was a “positive decision for the citizens of Delaware County, who have paid enough for political infighting.”

“Parties that were continuously fighting about this issue have now come to the table to talk. I believe we are all focused on increasing communications and efficiency,” he said.

Both sides said that now that the court case is done, they would sit down and work out how the emergency communications system will be run.

The dispute centered on an exemption in Ohio law that allows county commissioners to maintain control of county emergency communications if they provided public safety communications to cities, townships, villages and other entities within the county before a March 15, 1993 cutoff date. Because the county has maintained a 911 service since before the cutoff date, the commissioners argued the board qualified for the exemption.

Attorneys for the sheriff had argued that a countywide public safety communications system did not exist until 2006 — well after the cutoff date — when the county’s current radio system went online. However, the three-judge panel disagreed. The 911 center, the court ruled, fulfilled the legal definition of a “communications facility” as laid out in Ohio law.

“The exception does not hinge on a particular quality of service or quality of service,” Ohio Fifth Circuit Judge Sheila G. Farmer in the eight-page ruling. Thus, the sheriff “cannot demonstrate and has not demonstrated a clear legal right” to control emergency communications, Farmer wrote.

The fact that the lawsuit was filed by a former sheriff against three commissioners who are no longer in office complicated the situation, Hanks said.

“I think the lawyers were the only people who knew what was going on,” Hicks joked.(info from The Delaware Gazette)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Senior citizen called 911 about lost time

Recently in Connecticut when the clocks in an assisted living community were set ahead for Daylight Saving Time, one of the residents called 911 to report that an hour was missing from her clock.

The police then called the main desk of the institution to inquire about the stolen hour.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It could cost $500 for a 911 call to be taken down from Pikes Peak

The trail up Colorado's Pikes Peak is a tough 12.6-mile climb, rising up 7,500 feet. Some people make it to the top but call 911 for a ride down.

Pikes Peak Highway officials want the Colorado Springs City Council to approve a $500 per-person charge to bring down the increasing number of people who call 911 from the summit and aren't injured, but just don't want to hike down the 14,115-foot peak.

"Some of the people just say, ‘I want to get to the top of this mountain,' and they don't realize they have to get back down," highway manager Jack Glavan said. The U.S. Forest Service owns the land, but the city runs the toll road.

The $500 fee reflects the cost for employees who have already gone home to come back and drive the 19 miles up the mountain, fighting fierce night-time winds and sometimes snow. If they have to plow or call in more people, the fee could be higher.

Under the proposed fee schedule, hikers who call for a ride before workers have gone home would pay $100 each, and hikers who ask for transport from one location to another during regular hours will be charged $20 each.

Glavan said highway rangers and employees aren't trying to become taxis, but they need a fee schedule to get reimbursed from the increasing number of hikers who apparently get summit fever and find themselves high and dry, which happened to five people last year.
Glavan said the council's action would formalize the fees and encourage hikers to plan better. Glavan said. the city will put signs at the base of Barr Trail and at Barr Camp, about halfway up the trail, warning hikers the summit may be deserted after a certain time of day and that a $500 fee will be charged if they call to be rescued. (info from the Colorado Springs Gazette.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Drunk driver called 911 to report huimself

State police in western Pemnsylvania arrested a man on Saturday after he called 911 to report that he was driving away from a tavern but was going to pull over because he had drunk too much to drive safely.

Troopers found John Wilson in the parking lot of a gas station in Sligo, a tiny town with fewer than 300 households, at 12:45 a.m..

A trooper said this in his report on the incident: "(Mr.Wilson) related that he had left the bar and was on his way home when he realized he was too drunk to make it home." Police said charges that could include driving under the influence will be filed after results of a blood-alcohol test are known. (info from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Friday, February 20, 2009

911 Prank call caused high school lockdown

A reported home invasion robbery and shooting in Loxahatchee, Florida that put Seminole Ridge High School on lockdown on February 18th turned out to be a prank, according to Palm Beach County sheriff's officials.

"It appears to be completely a hoax," said Lt. Shane Cioffi after deputies searched a home and found nothing. A Spanish-speaking caller phoned the county's multilingual 911 line at 2:11 p.m. and told dispatchers that people were breaking into the home on Orange Grove Boulevard and that the people living in the home were shooting at their intruders.

The house is on a road right behind the school. School was due to let out at 2:50 p.m., but students were kept inside.

More than 20 deputies showed up and set up a perimeter around the house. They entered the home and found nobody inside and no sign of a robbery or shooting. The lockdown lasted for at least 20 minutes before students were released.

Cioffi said a hoax like the 911 call, which is itself a crime, could put deputies and the public who is in the area in danger by sending deputies into a situation where they expect to encounter somebody who is armed. "It's potentially deadly," Cioffi said. (info from the Palm Beach Post)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Burglary victim called 911 and stole bad guys' getaway vehicle

A Washington state man outsmarted burglars by stealing from them. When they broke into his home, he left them with no way to get away.

Patrick Rosario was in his basement when two burglars broke down the front door. "It was just a big boom and I heard running footsteps," Rosario said. He peeked through a crack under the basement door and saw unfamiliar jeans running around, pulling out his TV.

He ducked out the back door while calling 911 and got to the driveway and saw the getaway van with its engine running. He got in and drove around the corner to a friend's house.

Here is the transcription of the 911 call:

Patrick: "They just broke in and they've been running around in my house and oh look they left the door open with the car. Uh I just drove their car away."

911 Dispatcher: "Don't do that sir! You just stole their car"

Patrick: "Yeah, I know I just stole their car."

911 Dispatcher: "Okay, you can now be charged with that. Stop."

Patrick: "Okay, I'm stopping, i'm stopping."

"It did occur to me as I was jumping in and putting the van into drive that I was actually robbing my robbers, which was a pretty satisfying feeling I gotta say!" Rosario said.

By the time officers arrived, the would-be thieves were gone, Leaving a pile of TVs, electronics, and even Rosario's son's tricycle behind. Officers searched the suspects' vehicle for clues.

"It was simultaneously one of the smarter and dumber things I've ever done," Rosario said. (info from WBBH TV)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Research results: most 911 calls are not for emergencies

A recent study of the 911 Center in Dane County, Wisconsin revealed that 72 percent of the calls it receives are not emergencies.

The center has been examined since the April 2008 murder of student Brittany Zimmermann. She called 911 from her cellphone, but a dispatcher failed to return the call after it was disconnected.

The report was mainly positive of the 911 center in terms of response times and return calls after disconnected calls, despite the Zimmermann case. In an average week, the 911 center gets 12,635 calls. Of those, 9,101 are non-emergency. (Info from The Capital Times)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Escaped prisoner got lost and called 911 for help

Prisoner Bruce Price was supposed to be working on the farm at West Tennessee State Penitentiary at Henning. He escaped and called 911 Sunday after getting lost in the woods near the farm. He picked up contraband -- two cellphones, six pounds of tobacco and a bottle of whisky -- which authorities believe had been placed in the woods by someone else for Price.

He tried to return to the prison when he lost his bearings, so he used a cellphone to call for help.

"He told them he wasn't planning to escape, but got lost in the woods," said Dorinda Carter, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department rescued him after 105 minutes of freedom. He'll be charged with escape.

Price, sentenced to five years for theft over $1,000, had been scheduled to go before the Parole Board on Wednesday. He could have enjoyed an early release for what had been good behavior. (info from Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Man wanted to call India, but got 911, twice

When Deep Vashishta, a jewelry importer who lives in New York City, arrived in the US three years ago, the first thing he wanted to do was call his wife in New Delhi to let her know he was safe.

So he picked up the phone and started to dial — first the country code for India, which is 91, then the start of the city code for New Delhi, which is 11. But before he could finish punching in all the numbers, the voice of a woman speaking in English came onto the line.

“I said, ‘O.K., wrong number,’ and I put down the phone,” Vashishta recalled. Two minutes later, there was a knock at his door. It was the police.

Vashishta had forgotten to dial the international calling code 011 before calling India, and he is hardly the only South Asian immigrant who has done this, as was evident from an informal survey on the streets of Jackson Heights, a heavily Indian neighborhood in Queens.

Nationwide, 240 million calls are placed to 911 every year, and up to 10 percent of them are misdialed, according to Patrick Halley, a spokesman for the National Emergency Number Association.

Although neither Halley nor the New York Police Department could provide statistics on how many misdialings in the city were attempts to call numbers in India, many local Indians, especially newly arrived immigrants, acknowledge that the misdialings are a common problem.

Rajinder Singh tells a typical story. Speaking in a mix of English and his native Punjabi, he recalled that he could not figure out why he was unable to reach his family in India when he came to the United States in 1997, and why the police called him back within five minutes.

“Do you have a problem?” he was asked. “No, no problem,” Singh replied. And he added: “The police here are way better than the police in our country. If this happened there, they would never be this nice.”

As for Vashishta, he laughed in embarrassment as he recalled misdialing 911 not once but twice in a weekend. “It all happened by mistake,” he said. When he tried to call his wife the following day, once more forgetting to dial 011 first, he again found police at his door.

“You did this yesterday, too,” he recalled the officers saying. Suspicious, they searched every room of the house.

But Vashishta thinks that he may now have a fail-safe solution. He pulled out his cellphone, which displays a picture of his new grandson.

“Now, I have my cellphone, and all my numbers have codes,” he said. “I just dial 1 for my wife, 2 for my son, 3 for my parents. No more mistakes.” (info & photo from The New York Times)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Drunk man made phony 911 call about gun shots

A 911 call reporting gunfire at a bar in Winona, Minnesota earlier this month turned out to be a prank by a man who’d downed an entire bottle of tequila.

Police said someone called 911 about 11 p.m. to report a man with a gun at the bar. While police were en route, 911 received a call reporting shots fired.

Witnesses at and near the bar told police they hadn’t seen a gun or heard shots. Police noticed a man who appeared intoxicated. Police detained [name withheld], who said he’d drunk a bottle of tequila earlier in the evening. An officer compared the voice on the 911 tape to his voice and arrested him for making a false 911 call. He was taken to a hospital for detoxification. Police did not find a gun. (info from Winona Daily News)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Time for a 911 joke

Becky Sue passed away and Bubba called 911. The 911 operator told Bubba that she would send someone right away.

"Where do you live?" asked the operator.

Bubba replied, "At the end of Eucalyptus Drive."

The operator asked, "Can you spell that for me?"

There was a long pause and finally Bubba said, "How 'bout I just drag her over to Oak Street and you pick her up there?"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No beer? Dammit, I'll call 911!

A convenience store clerk in Zephyrhills, Florida called 911 early Saturday morning and told the dispatcher that a customer was threatening her because she would not sell him any more beer.

Minutes later, the man called 911 and was "abusive" to the dispatcher. The man was charged with disorderly conduct and released on bond. (Info from St. Petersburg Times)

Monday, February 9, 2009

No lemonade? Dammit, I'll call 911!

Police in Boynton Beach, Florida arrested Jean Fortune for abuse of 911 communication.

He was nabbed by the cops after calling 911 to complain that a Burger King had run out of lemonade. (info from

Friday, February 6, 2009

It took three 911 calls before police got to frozen body

In late January it took three calls over two days to Detroit authorities before they recovered the body of a man frozen in ice in the elevator shaft of a vacant warehouse.

A reporter for The Detroit News said they got a tip and found the body in a former Detroit Public Schools warehouse. The reporter called 911 and told an operator about the body. A man returned the call to the newsroom about 20 minutes later and said the body would be retrieved.

But the next day, the body was still trapped in the ice. The reporter made two more calls to 911, one of which was disconnected. A fire department employee arranged to meet the reporter and to get the body.

Authorities used saws to extricate the body. Investigators think the body was there for several months. It was taken to the Wayne County medical examiner's office. The man's name and the cause of his death weren't known.

The warehouse once was the Detroit schools' main storehouse for books and supplies. A 1987 fire caused extensive damage. It also once was part of Detroit's main post office.(info from The Associated Press)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Buy my book, or maybe get it free

I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: stories from school and real life is a collection of more than 100 stories -- mostly short and funny, one long and serious and funny and shocking.

They deal with my early childhood, my time in public school and college, and while working in advertising, telecommunications, journalism, and as an amateur attorney. Culture clash is a frequent theme. So is food. And phoniness. There's lots of sex, drugs and rock & roll. Even the sex and drug stories are funny. There are four murders.

The main title is a quote from one of my teachers. She was nuts.

Here are some comments from readers:

“I loved the 3-way sex scene. It seemed familiar. Was I there?”

“You’re a great story teller. I laughed my ass off.”

“I knew the lesbian painter. She was a lousy painter but an excellent lesbian. When does the movie come out?”

“You remember everything. I'm glad you didn't see me doing anything illegal or stupid.”

“Obviously your typing class accomplished something useful. You almost made me pee in my pants. Very, very funny.”

“I didn’t realize what an a-hole I was back then. If this book wasn’t so funny, I’d probably sue you for libel. I'll settle for an autographed copy.”

The 308-page illustrated book has a list price of $19.95 and is discounted at, but if you get a new Amazon credit card, you'll get a $30 certificate which is enough to pay for the book and shipping, and leave a few bucks to buy something else.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Man asked 911 to "hold" while he bought drugs

Alejandro Melendez called 911 in Cleveland, Ohio because he thought he was in danger, and then asked the dispatcher to hold on while he did a drug deal. He was arrested after the call and was charged with possessing cocaine.

Police said Melendez called 911 late Saturday and reported that two men with guns were watching him. He hung up and the dispatcher called him back.

Melendez answered and asked the dispatcher to hold on. The dispatcher could still hear someone say: "What you need? A 10-pack? You need a 10-pack? All right." Police say "10-pack" is slang for a bundle of heroin.

The dispatcher called police, who found Melendez at the location he gave, had the dispatcher call his cellphone again, and said they found cocaine in his pants. (info from The Associated Press)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Man reported cop to 911 during traffic stop

Kevin Allen refused to show his drivers license to the state trooper who stopped him for speeding on Interstate 4 in Florida on Saturday.

The trooper replied that this was grounds for arrest. Allen responded that this was unfair. The trooper grabbed his arm to arrest him. Allen gripped his steering wheel. The trooper grabbed his pepper spray.

Then Allen Casselberry reached for his cellphone and called the cops on the cop who was trying to arrest him. "I'm being assaulted by an officer on I-4," Allen shouted to 911 dispatchers. Please call my wife!"

Allen also demanded that dispatchers summon the news media to the scene. "This is not cool!" Allen shouted.

It was an atypical response to an arrest, said Sgt. Kim Miller, a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman. "In 15 years, this is the first time I've heard of this." An agency review determined the trooper followed department procedures, Miller said.

Allen was treated at the scene for pepper-spray exposure and taken to the Orange County Jail. He faces three counts of resisting arrest with violence and one count of battery on a law-enforcement officer. He was released on $2,700 bail.

The stop took place after a trooper noticed Allen was tailgating his marked patrol car. The Dodge Caravan passed the trooper, who clocked him at 72 mph and then pulled him over. Allen refused to hand over his license, registration or proof of insurance.

During the 911 call, Allen gave dispatchers a play-by-play of what he described as an "assault."

"He's dragging me out of my car. Goodbye," he told dispatchers.

"Dude, I'm not even fighting you," he told the trooper.

A dispatcher asked him to comply. The trooper shouted for him to get down.

Allen screamed: "Owwww!"

When the pepper spray cleared, Allen revealed why he didn't show his license. " 'It was a matter of principle.' Those were his exact words," Miller said. (info from The Orlando Sentinel)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fake 911 call helps drug burglars

A fake 911 call about a shooting outside of Love’s travel stop in Chouteau, Oklahoma left burglars enough time to rob a pharmacy early Sunday morning.

The caller stated someone was shot behind Love’s and there was blood all over the place. The caller said the person could be found where the trucks park.

Chouteau Officer T.J. Cox and other deputies responded to the area and began questioning nearby truckers. “No one had seen or heard anything,” said Assistant Chief Lynn Hershberger.

The officers and deputies walked the lot and field nearby when they got a call that an alarm was activated at Chouteau Pharmacy. Hershberger said that’s when the officers knew the shooting call was a set-up.

“Love’s is at the south end of town and the pharmacy is at the north,” said Hershberger. “They tried to get (officers) as far away as possible and get ‘em tied up a little bit.”

Officers raced to their vehicles and headed toward the pharmacy, but no one was on site by the time they arrived. The thief took morphine pills. “They knew where they were going and what they were getting,” said Hershberger. No other medications had been taken. (info from Pryor Daily Times)