Editor: One of our bloggers, who goes by the initials PSD, and his partner had a disturbing experience while driving along West Point Loma Avenue just outside Ocean Beach yesterday, Saturday, May 30th, when they tried calling emergency 9-1-1.
My partner and I were driving down West Pt. Loma around 1:00 today – Saturday, May 30th – heading east. On the corner of Rialto, two boys appeared to be arguing – one looked to be no more than six or seven years old, the other in his mid-teens.
As we passed, the older one threw the younger to the ground and began pummeling him with fists and kicks to the chest, possibly using some sort of blunt instrument like a hammer handle from what I was able to make out. By the time we realized what was happening and pulled the car over, we were at the other end of the block, near Famosa.
I pulled out my phone, dialed 911, and handed it off to my girlfriend, Christina, as we both got out of the car and began to approach the child being beaten. As we approached, the aggressor saw us closing in from about 50 yards away, stopped unloading on his victim, and instead grabbed the younger child off the ground and ran around the corner.
I quickened my pace to a jog, and by the time I rounded the corner I saw the older boy disappear into an apartment complex somewhere in the distance. When we got to where we saw them disappear there was no trace of activity around the entrances to a dozen or so residences.
While this display was sickening, and I sadly make the assumption that whatever household these boys came from condones, or at least turns a blind eye, to this kind of behavior, the 911 dispatcher’s response to our call almost equally disheartens me.
Of course, I don’t understand proper police protocol, so for all I know this was standard operating procedure.
My preferred response to “Hi, I’m on West Pt. Loma Blvd. about a quarter mile east of Nimitz watching a young child being violently assaulted,” would’ve been something along the lines of the following:
“Thank you ma’am, I’ll send the closest available unit right away. Do you feel that you’re in any danger yourself? Will you stay on the scene to talk to the officers when they arrive?”
Not quite what we got. Instead, something more like this:
Dispatch: Okay. What’s your name.
Dispatch: Okay Christina, what corner are you on and what direction are you heading?
Christina: I don’t know…wait, I’m on the corner of West Pt. Loma and Famosa, heading toward the beach.
Dispatch: What was the make, model, and color of the car you were driving when you saw this?
Christina: It’s a black Honda. Crap, the older one grabbed the little boy and they’re heading around the corner.
Dispatch: What model Honda?
Christina: Are you sending an officer? I’m not in the car anymore, I’m heading toward where we saw the kid getting hit.
Dispatch: What are you wearing?
Christina: Gym clothes, I was on my way to the gym.
Dispatch: And the individuals you saw, how tall were they and how much would you say they weighed?
Christina: One of them was a little boy, like five or six years old. The other one looked like a teenager, he was maybe as high as my shoulders, so a little over five feet?
Dispatch: And what were they wearing?
Christina: The one that was hitting the other had a green shirt, dark shorts, maybe blue or black. They’re gone now, it looks like one dragged the other into some apartment complex. Are you going to call for an officer?
Dispatch: Will you wait on the scene for an officer to arrive?
Christina: Is one coming?
Dispatch: Now Christina, I need to know if you’re going to help us out…
Christina: I’m trying!
Dispatch: Well I need to know more about these individuals’ clothes. You said a green shirt – what kind of green shirt?
And this went on.
At this point we had no idea which of a couple potential apartment complexes these kids had disappeared into, but we knew by now that over the course of the five minutes begging for the 911 operator to dispatch a patrol car that the perpetrator could’ve changed clothes several times. And the young boy was in a home where he was at risk of suffering further.
We eventually gave up, after being chided for not being cooperative enough for the operator’s preferences and having it made perfectly clear that no police would be investigating the incident.
Disgusted, the image kept playing through my mind on the treadmill later. And I felt angry. Angry that I was being made by the 911 dispatcher/police to feel that I was interfering in someone else’s business. Angry they didn’t care about helping. Angry at myself for not interfering faster, and with greater effect. Angry that, even though I’d long ago written them off as being a greater detriment than benefit to the community, the police were once again proving my lack of faith in them to be well-founded.