Hello, Sanibel Police Department, I’m caller number 5,723
The Sanibel Police Department is on a high right now. Total calls to the Department increased from 26,076 in 2007 to 32,424 in 2008. And response time has decreased from 2 minutes, 27 seconds to 2 minutes, 7 seconds.
This is an enviable achievement and we can all take comfort that public safety has been increased. But these numbers raise certain questions. For example, if a response call now takes 20 seconds less than it did the year before, what could have happened in those 20 extra seconds in 2007 than in 2008?
What crimes or mishaps were prevented from being even worse during the 20 seconds that were saved? One can only guess. If some household in Sanibel were experiencing domestic violence then that 20 seconds would have saved some more dishware from being destroyed as fewer dishes were hurled at offending spouses.
Or if a burglary were in progress then the perpetrators would have trouble lugging that 65 inch plasma screen off the wall in those crucial 20 seconds.
Or if a drug bust was being planned and, of course, we all know that this is hypothetical because there is no such thing as illegal drugs in Sanibel then the potheads in question wouldn’t have enough time to flush the evidence down the toilet.
Saving 20 seconds can save lives, marriages, furniture, TV sets, and countless other domestic and criminal doings.
Now what about the additional 6,000 phone calls that came in during 2008. I suspect that many of them had little to do with situations that called for police intervention. I suspect that many of those calls were from citizens who called the police as a last resort because they didn’t know who else to call.
Here’s a sample:
Police Department: Good afternoon, this is the Sanibel Police Department.
Caller: Thank God you’re there. I didn’t know who else to call.
PD: What can I do for you?
Caller: I can’t find my eye glasses. And I need them to drive. I need to go for my colonoscopy this morning. I took all that stuff last night and don’t want to waste it.
PD: Have you looked everywhere?
Caller: I’ve looked in every nook and cranny, every drawer-I even looked inside the refrigerator. I stuffed myself on pizza and hot dogs the day before I needed to fast and thought the glasses might be in the fridge. But they weren’t. I just can’t find them.
PD: We’ll be happy to send one of our officers over to help you but let’s try one more thing. Look in your trouser pockets.
Caller: No, they’re not there.
PD: Okay. Now put your hands on top of your head.
Caller: Well, golly gee, there they are. It’d be the last place I’d have looked for my glasses. Thank you so much. Now I can go get my colonoscopy.
And that’s only one of the additional 6,000 calls. Let’s listen in on one more.
PD: Hello, Sanibel Police Department
Caller: I’m calling about a possible terrorist attack.
PD: (On total alert) please give me the details and let me know if you or anyone near you is in immediate danger.
Caller: No, no one is in any danger yet. But the space ship just landed in my backyard and hundreds of very tiny people are approaching the house.
PD: A space ship, you say? Why do you think it’s a terrorist attack?
Caller: Because I’m terrified. I’ve never seen such small people.
PD: Sir, is it possible that these aliens are friendly and not hostile?
Caller: Whoops, you’re right. The space ship is actually a painted truck from Dairy Queen and the little people are actually small children carrying ice cream cones. It must be some sort of promotion. Sorry about that. False alarm.
PD: That’s all right, sir. Enjoy the ice cream.
The fact is there are 6,000 stories involving all those additional phone calls to the Sanibel Police Department. Some are very real, some are figments of people’s imaginations and others are for such disasters as frozen ice cream being too hard to scoop out, barbecue grills that don’t ignite, iguanas in the bathtub and hair dryers that blow out Arctic air.
Is yours one of the Sanibel Police Department’s calls last year? If so, did you have a real emergency or were you feeling a bit lonely and just needed a voice to lean on?