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Intruders in the Bushes?

Submitted by Linda Olmstead

You know how we get those calls from nuts, right? Folks with strange delusions, etc.. Well, after having heard some stories from a seasoned sergeant about how he's dealt with some off-kilter folks, this particular incident occurs.

I'm a participant in this, but the senior dispatcher takes the first call from an elderly woman who starts out reporting suspicious activity in her plants... Okay, sounds like a prowler call at first blush. Then she mentions that the suspicious people are "shrinking from small size to tall size." This stops the senior dispatcher. He thinks quickly, and asks her some more pointed questions, like where are these bushes, and she tells them they are in her houseplants. So he suggests she try scaring them out of the plants with "a household appliance." She gets a bit irritated and tells him: "I've tried that; they aren't the least bit afraid of my hair dryer!!"

So, now we know she's off-kilter, and probably doesn't have any prowlers at all. I'm the dispatcher working the frequency where we have to send the officer -- the only one out there is a rookie and there's no one available to send as a back-up. (All mentally disturbed calls get TWO officer s.) I start him in that direction, adding that we'll clear a unit from the jail to respond.

I explain about the "prowlers in her houseplants shrinking from small size to tall size," by the way. He arrives, and before I can get another unit rolling, he comes on the air and advises: "We're Code 4. (no further assistance needed.)" This is a relief. He clears the scene shortly, without taking a report number.

About 20 minutes later, the lady calls back, demanding that the officer return "to finish the job." I'm the one that answers this call, and I ask her what the officer needed to do... and she said, "He forgot one in the terrarium."

I raise the rookie, whom, up to this point, we didn't really think was that swift a guy, and advise him to return to the address to complete the detail, per the reporting party. He radios back, "But I ordered them all into the back of the patrol unit; what's wrong now?" "You forgot one." "oh, 10-4; I'll be enroute; and I'll still be code 4."

So our erstwhile rookie returns to the scene, shakes out all the houseplants and orders the last of the "prowlers" into the back of his patrol car, and for the rest of the night, whenever he used the radio, he said "We" and not "I" since there were all these little prowlers riding along with him....

Unfortunately, later we had to go back because she kept calling with new prowlers, and getting more agitated, and so she was eventually taken to the hospital for evaluation. Turns out she was well-known to the ER nurses -- she was an alcoholic going through DTs. :(

Linda Olmstead

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