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Monday, February 21, 2011

Anatomy of a Sexual Assault Investigation IV

Call Response:

When you hear the phrase call response it just about defines itself. It is the phrase used to determine how a police officer responds to a call. Now for every officer responding to a call there are two words that stand out, or rather, that  take priority: quickly and safely.
There is an old saying that goes, “You can’t crash too quickly.” This goes on to say that if you crash en route you won’t be any help to your partner. You see both the humor and the reality of this statement.
So, as a responding officer you will either travel at one of three levels of code.
a.       Code 1 – Lowest level of response. No lights, no sirens, follow and obey all traffic rules and rules of the road.

b.      Code 2 – Mid-level response. Lights but no sirens and “get there quickly”, but follow the rules of the road, may exceed posted speed limit if safe to do so.

c.       Code 3- Emergency response, get there now. Lights and sirens allowed and expected. The key thing to remember is that as a marked unit responding in a C-3 status you are still required to observe the rules of the road. Just because a police officer is traveling with lights and sirens he does not have the right to drive through intersections or other traffic control devices without due observance. 

Another point to remember about code response is that it the ultimate decision and responsibility of how an officer responds is up to that responding officer.
The higher the level of threat the higher the level of response will be. If there is an officer involved incident, where the officer is now being threatened directly, the code response will go higher. If the suspect in a crime is listed as either armed and or dangerous, the repose will be higher.  It there is an immediate threat to the public interest or safety then the code response will be higher.  An administrative call, i.e. report taking or information gathering, then the response will be code-one. When an officer arrives on scene and the situation is controlled, the call is downgraded to Code-four, situation controlled or safe.
There is one other code option available to officers in the field and it is the cod-four alpha. This is a situation where an officer tells his partners that the situation is under control, but there is something, maybe indefinable that just feels or seems wrong. In this case his area partners will remain near the call even if they do not check out on it for assistance.
Next time we’ll talk about what are some of the things that can escalate a call to a code-four response.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anatomy of a Sexual Assault Investigation III

Call Holding.
Many shifts have begun with those words either typed across the screen of the MDT, mobile-date-terminal, or broadcast over the units police radio.
The good thing about starting a shift this way is you are guaranteed an interesting shift. The bad news is you probably won’t ever get caught up and will be running from one call to another for the duration of your shift.  
But, a sure way you can be sure you won’t bounce around all night is to catch, - that’s police jargon for being assigned-, a sexual assault call. From the minute you answer that call and go en route, you can be sure that the next three to five hours will be solely focused on one thing alone… deciphering the sexual assault.
When the call goes out, the area car, the unit assigned to that particular reporting district, will respond. The patrol officer answers with his call sign, 1-A12, en route. This is followed by an estimation of arrival time. Why? Just in case there is another unit closer to the call and can respond faster.
If that’s the case then the new officer will respond by saying, “Cancel A12, A44 is 23” that is to say already on scene. Then the call will be reassigned to the new officer as PRIMARY and A12 will become the assist.
Now, if the first unit really wants the call, he or she can override and remain as primary and the second unit will become the backup.
At this point dispatch will have the responding officers go to a secure channel on the radio, off the primary dispatch channel, so that normal radio traffic can still flow freely. Once on the new channel the responding officers will receive the detailed information on the call.
The call might go something like this:
Dispatch: 1A12.
Unit: 1A12.
Dispatch: 1A12. See the woman at St. Mary’s ER for a report of a sexual assault just occurred.  Respond code two.
Unit: 1A12 copy. 76 (76 is short for 10-76 or en route.)
Unit 2: 1A44.
Dispatch: 1A44, go.
Unit 2: 1A44. Cancel 1A12 and show me 10-23. (On scene.)
Dispatch: 1A12 did you copy last traffic?
Unit: 1A12. 10-04, but will continue on call. Have A44 assigned as backup. 1A12 out.
Dispatch: Copy. Both units to channel four for further.
Units 1 & 2: Copy, going to four.
Now that is perhaps an over simplification of the process, but accurate nonetheless. Once the call has gotten to this point the Shift Supervisor, usually a sergeant or a corporal, who has been listening in on this call, will also go to channel four and began to assess the available resources and determine what can be cleared or activated as needed.
Next we’ll talk about Call Response.