The People vs. 911

Letters published May 10, 2001

A Knight's Tale In Stuff: The Product
Dispatcher responds to a January emergency

While I'm sure that Cleveland police department dispatchers were a little perturbed at being so harshly criticized in your article ["9-1-1 to Nowhere," January 25], I can certainly understand your position. But what you need to know is that they, too, are citizens of Cleveland due to the residency rule. So they are well aware that the relationship between the public and the police department has slowly and painfully deteriorated from a partnership against crime to a standoff, with neither side winning.

Citizens have a right to a prompt response. The citizens also have a right, as well as a responsibility, to educate themselves on how the city's emergency services work. When citizens don't understand how the system works, they cannot convey correct information to the emergency dispatcher. People who call 911 need to provide accurate information to the dispatchers, since an officer's life may depend on the difference between a white male in a red jacket and a white male in a maroon jacket -- especially if the wearer of the maroon jacket carries the weapon. For that reason, officers tend to frown on misinformation as much as a lack of information. And when things go wrong, as in your case, the dispatcher becomes the fall guy.

When the sixth district has a large number of assignments waiting to be dispatched, and let's say five to six of them are high-priority, the dispatcher is given five cars to take these assignments. On top of that, when three of those five are placed on special assignments, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that some of the citizens are going to be waiting awhile. Is this the dispatcher's fault? No. Still, the dispatcher is blamed.

In Chief [Martin] Flask's opinion, dispatchers get paid enough to be polite. However, members of Cleveland's safety department are some of the lowest-paid in the country. Second, Chief Flask must feel that dispatchers get paid enough to accept being called everything from "stupid bitches" by citizens to "psycho broad" by officers.

Certainly, Chief Flask informed you of the priority system. I know he sat you down and explained how any domestic call, including arguments between grandmother and grandchild, are now priority-one assignments. And he may have let you in on the fact that the dispatchers are discouraged from informing callers of the true status of their calls. They are supposed to say, "Officers will arrive as soon as operational conditions permit" when asked for time of arrival. They are discouraged from informing citizens that there is little to nothing that the Cleveland police department can do about barking dogs or landlord-tenant disputes. They are discouraged from explaining that someone who is shot may take priority over a barking dog. So now, instead of educating the citizen about 911 calls, dispatchers are asked to deceive them. Citizens are left waiting, so they make complaints, and the result is usually more rules designed to placate, patronize, and deceive the citizens. Can we say "endless cycle"?

After all the finger-pointing has taken place, we still have to agree that something is fundamentally wrong with the state of affairs between the Cleveland police department and its citizens. And articles like yours only fuel the problem. Of course you have the right to complain, but being in such a position to reach a large number of people, one would have thought that the intelligent thing to do would be to take a more productive approach.

If you feel that your 911 call was not handled properly, you are well within your rights to make a complaint. Just notify the office of professional standards. Please do not call 621-1234 or 911. Those are for life-and-death emergencies. Chief Flask gets paid enough to know that.

Cleveland Dispatcher
Name withheld upon request

A life is changed by John in C-Town's plight

That was one of the most grindingly hilarious articles I've ever read ["Tears of a Clone," April 5]. Maybe it's because I'm vaguely familiar with the subject matter, or maybe it's because the accompanying picture of John was worth 1,000 words itself. Thank you so, so much for putting my own healthy interest in the Jungle in perspective.

Greg McFarlane a.k.a. "Greg in Vegas"
Las Vegas

Does Gallucci play CDs or read them?

I just read Mike Gallucci's review of Stevie Nicks's new CD [Playback, April 26]. I think he needs to do more than read the CD liner notes -- which is obviously what he's done here -- before he writes a review. I had the opportunity to get a sampler copy of the CD, and from those five songs alone, I can tell you this CD is exceptional -- perhaps her best work since Belladonna. Her recent performance of "Fall From Grace" (a song on the new CD) at the Blockbuster Awards is evidence that this woman can still rock and show a passion for life and love. And since when has being "confessional" been a liability in songwriting? Isn't that what songwriting is all about? Expressing emotion, feeling, and hope in a song?

Kelly Conroy

Nicks cuts are sharp as ever

I was very disappointed with your review of Stevie Nicks's Trouble in Shangri-La. I have listened to the entire album, and it is nothing short of spectacular. The songs are wonderfully written and performed with excellence. This is Stevie's best work since Belladonna. Stevie's poetic lyrics are very powerful and leave you inspired after listening. The songs flow together and totally rock. Not surprisingly, the beautiful gypsy has created her masterpiece. Once again, Nicks has given us a part of her little world through her empowering, personal lyrics.

I guess players only love you when they're playing, but Stevie will always be the poet in our hearts.

Jamie Tobin
East Lansing, Michigan

Two cents from the Stevie Nicks Fan Club, Burnsville Bureau

While I believe Mr. Gallucci has a right to his opinion, the editors might want to tell him to actually listen to the songs the next time he reviews a CD [Stevie Nicks in Playback, April 26]. This is a first time for me where the reviewer seems to have reviewed only the titles of the songs. Next time, take a listen first, then give the readers your two cents.

Eileen Halbert
Burnsville, Minnesota

Blitzkrieg bopped

I never had any major gripe with Scene until now. This is supposed to be an entertainment weekly, but you are showing what a bunch of ignoramuses you are by not even mentioning Joey Ramone's death. Even a bunch of corporate lamesters like you can't deny what an important fixture and influence Joey Ramone was on the American rock landscape. I am sure there are others who will echo my sentiments, if they haven't already. Shame on you.

Mike Sherwood

No Ramone obit, no reader respect

It was recently brought to my attention that a few years back, Scene featured a local artist (band) on the cover for the first time in the history of the rag. The band: Looks That Kill, the Mötley Crüe tribute band. I was shocked, to put it lightly. Never Joe Walsh or even Michael Stanley in more than 25 years? I think I can speak for all local bands -- a handful of which are truly good and worth notice -- and say thanks for your support. Now you fail to even give the death of Joey Ramone a mere mention. What do you guys cover? It seems that, if I ever find myself in a personal ad emergency, Scene magazine is the place to turn. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Scott Stemple

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