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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.

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