Friday, April 26, 2013

Chicago Police Department Communications Discipline

Chicago has become the murder capitol of the world. Located inside the borders of the only state that explicitly says citizens have absolutely no legal rights to self - defense of any sort, be it with your hands or with a gun, the ranks of the Chicago Police Department have been thinning even in the face of new hires.

Thinning ranks at the Chicago Police Department also means higher stress levels for their sworn members. Most interactions between police and the public are professional, and most of the conduct over the air between CPD Officers and Chicago's OEMC dispatchers is almost always jovial, free-flowing, professional, and kept to necessary details.

An audio clip recorded on 8-21-2012 has surfaced that shows us just how stress, confusion, and chaos can affect the working relationships between officers and dispatchers. The audio from Chicago Police Department Radio Zone 12 starts out as the 15th district is working a case involving a robbery offender or offenders with a weapon, and becomes tense from there.



Officer: Ok, I'm on the way

Radio Dispatcher: 1519 officer, we'll hold ya down, any information on these robbery offenders? Anyone have any info?

Field Unit: 1506 Eddy, Uh, they said that they took a shot at them, so uh, there IS a weapon involved here.

Field unit: (unidentified transmission) good thing ya got that job out for us before you (officer speaking too fast to be clearly intelligible) squad!

Dispatcher: umm, calm YOURSELF DOWN

Field unit: 150?? Sarge, did ya copy that?

Dispatcher: Yep, I copied everything you gave me and I gave it out, that's a 10-4!

Field unit: (Unidentified transmission) You gave it out when you felt like it, didn't ya?

Dispatcher: Shut - up!

Field Unit: (Unidentified transmission) don't tell me to shut up, do your job right!

Field Unit: 2533Robert

Dispatcher: Call me on the phone and I'll tell you what ya did incorrectly! 2533Robert

Field Unit: Yes ma'am, can you call this car back, tell em' to meet us outside cause this house looks pretty secure in the back if he wants to walk through

Dispatcher: sure would, 10-4!

Dispatcher: That unit, I have your radio number. If you come over the air, you'll be written up.

Field Unit: (Unidentified transmission) what's that?

Dispatcher: That's radio 9960, 9960 for the comments.

Field Unit: (unidentified transmission) write me up!

Dispatcher: You will be, keep talking!

Dispatcher: alright, gimme your name!

Field Unit cuts in with unidentified transmission: cut it out!

Field unit cuts in emotionally with unidentified transmission: I'm not gonna ask to be recognized whenever I'm looking for a man with a gun, squad! You can just answer the question, alright!

Dispatcher: 9960 for that radio number, if you say anything else you WILL be written up! YOU HEARD ME ask the unit he has the air for information so...stop it with your comments!

Field Unit cuts in aggressively and emotionally: your job before you did that!

Dispatcher: I never gave out a job!

Unidentified female field unit: hey, let's keep the radio open / clear now!

Dispatcher: Sergeant, you're the boss! Tell your units to stop with the comments!

We now know this armed robbery incident and radio exchange took place overnight between 10PM and 7:30AM because of the 25th district "robert" designator. 

This whole exchange took place over a time period of one minute and fourty five seconds. That is enough time for a unit to have had a life threatening emergency in an armed situation like this. The people of the city of Chicago DO NOT need sworn police officers who can't get along with each other, and neither do they need police officers and communications dispatchers in that same situation of not being able to work well with each other. Hot heads, emotional reactions, and law enforcement DO NOT mix!

Keeping this communications related, this is a good example of how NOT to communicate with others. Judicious use of radio air time in any emergency profession is key. They WAY our nation's emergency responders communicate with each other matters just as much as knowing WHEN and WHEN NOT to say anything on the air. Discretion is the better part of valor.

As this transcript shows, several violations of CPD policy took place as did several violations of FCC laws in regards to proper identification of radio transmissions. FCC laws and regulations apply to everyone who uses communications gear, and even to those who live in Florida and operate well pumps in bad repair.  

Hopefully, something was done about this radio exchange. Besides placing other officers in danger, it placed the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications in a bad light. The City of Chicago has enough problems, enough of a bad image, and incidents like this just make things worse. Would this dispatcher have ignored other demands for police service coming across her screen to continue the argument with the field unit with radio#9960? Would the police officer have ignored criminal activity to continue the argument with the dispatcher? Did this incident continue with further exchanges between radio 9960 and the dispatcher? We'll never know.