Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Glenn Tucker | Don't call 119; try 911

Published:Wednesday | April 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I can understand perfectly the emotions that Patria-Kaye Aarons ('119 fails again', Gleaner, April 24, 2018) experienced with that 119 crew. But at her age and stage, she should know not to waste time calling these numbers.

I was taking a worker to hospital. He was beaten within an inch of his life because thieves used his back gate to make a getaway. Against his pleas, I insisted on stopping at the police station to make a formal report. He had to give his name. That was the first mistake.

When he returned home, he got a call from the beaters. They told him that the police had told them that he informed on them. To prove that they were right and 'controlled' the police, they gave him his correct name. He insists that no one but the police have his right name. They said they would be coming back to 'deal' with him.

At 1 o'clock the following morning, his wife called to say their house was firebombed. I called the fire department and gave them the address. It is one of the main streets in Waterhouse. But the operator claimed she had never heard of that name and insisted that it 'sounds like Spanish Town'. We got nowhere with the Fire Department that night.

One night, shortly after a storm tore down power lines, I heard strange sounds at the side of my house. Dogs, I thought. But it continued, and dogs should not be able to enter my premises. So I looked and saw a man trying to get into my room with a ladder that was a few feet too short.

I rushed into the bathroom and called the police station at the end of my road. They took the details and asked me to hold on. After a minute, I was told they were on their way. After half an hour, I called again to find out where they were. They had no idea what I was talking about.

By this time, the man had given up and managed to enter the house next door. At the time, only one female was at home. I called the police again. Again, they were 'on their way'. The man was in that house for 27 minutes before he emerged with two bags, which he set down in the driveway and re-entered the house. This time, he returned with two bags and what looked like a glass and a sandwich.

He sat in the driveway and fed his face, sorted out the bags, put what he needed in one bag and sauntered down the road. I stood by my window, stunned. Ten minutes later, the woman's son returned from a party. He raised an alarm.

Hours later, a police car turned up. They were visibly annoyed that nobody paid them any attention.

Later, in my bed, I couldn't help reflecting on a day, years before. I was visiting my sister in Florida. At one point, her infants were in a closet playing with the telephone. The phone rang back. It was 911.

The operator asked if there was a problem. The explanation was given. She explained that when the number rang and there was no answer, she notified the police and one was on the way.

As soon as the call ended, the doorbell rang. It was a patrolman. We explained again, but he insisted on carrying out a complete search of the house before leaving.

Behind his car was an ambulance - just in case. Behind the ambulance was a fire truck - just in case. And coming up the road was another patrol car - just in case. I told my sister that if she ever failed to pay her taxes, on time, she deserved to be jailed.

Patria-Kaye, the only comfort I can offer you is to suggest that next time you call 911.

- Glenn Tucker is a sociologist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and glenntucker2011@gmail.com.