Like many of you, I am a father, husband and grandfather. I take pride in my community and I am proud to be a member of the Edgewood Police Department. I have been a Patrol Officer for the better part of 21 years, and I have spent a great deal of that time in the City of Edgewood.
Often we are notified of suspicious activity by well-intended citizens long after the incident is over and long after any suspect or vehicle has left the area. The primary reason citizens give for not calling 911 when something suspicious is happening is that they don’t believe it’s a ” 911 worthy emergency.”
Let me assure you, you will not overwhelm our dispatch system if you call to report suspicious activity in your neighborhood. In fact, you may actually reduce the number of calls to South Sound 911 by calling.
For example, if you call to report a suspicious van in your neighborhood when it is still there, we have the opportunity to locate that van and identify any individuals associated with it. If this person or people had intended to commit a crime, or series of crimes in the area, they most certainly will leave once they are aware that we are watching them.
On the other hand, if you don’t report the suspicious activity, the suspect may very likely commit a rash of vehicle prowls, theft from yards, burglary to sheds or worse, residential burglary or a home invasion robbery. To me, this falls under the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Your one phone call can very easily prevent several of your neighbors from becoming victims and calling us in the morning.
The second most common reason I have heard from citizens for not calling 911 it that you think we have more important things to do. As much as I appreciate your concern with our workload, let me assure you that our dispatchers are very good at prioritizing our calls for service for us, and in the rare instance that I actually do have something more important to do, I will gladly get to you as soon as I finish with the other incident at hand.
I truly appreciate the support we enjoy from the citizens here in Edgewood and I hope you can all understand that, when the 911 system was first created in 1968, it was truly for reporting only “life and death” emergencies. All other calls were directed to the non-emergency number. (Let me be honest, in most cases through the early 1980’s, the call would be answered by the same person no matter which line you called!)
And so, from what many would describe as the “ancient” and “archaic” past, the system has evolved into a totality new and improved creature. Today, through the miracles of modern technology, the 911 system has morphed into a tremendous crime tracking tool that helps us in determining where assets should be allocated and in what areas we should be more visible. It helps us track calls for service as well as response time, time on scene and the various dispositions of our calls.
Please, call and report suspicious people or vehicles in your neighborhood when you first become aware of it! Imagine how powerful it will be if we can see the city through the eyes of 9,000 citizens! If the citizens are all willing to call when there is “something out of place” or “just not right,” it will be like each officer is everywhere at the same time!
Deputy Jay Jensen
Edgewood Police Department