With at least 13 ambush shooting of law enforcement during the last few weeks, Minneapolis police are making changes to how they handle 911 calls. Ambush shootings of officers nationwide were up 50% in 2014 and today’s numbers stand at a 70% increase over 2015! Washington-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund says ambush-style attacks are the leading method in the surging numbers of shooting deaths of law enforcement officers.
Harry Houck, a consultant and former NYPD detective, said officers could be seconding guessing themselves as scrutiny of the police increases.
“If an officer is afraid to immediately react the way he’s supposed to that could cost him his life.”
This brings us to Minneapolis. In an effort to protect officers from potentially dangerous situations, 911 operators are now asking for callers’ names before routing law enforcement to assist.
“It’s all based on the ambush killings of officers throughout this country,” said former Golden Valley police officer Joe Dutton.
The new policy was implemented July 17th after the ambush attack that killed 3 officers in Baton Rouge and due to concerns relating to Black Lives Matter protests over the shooting of Philando Castile, the black man whose girlfriend went live on Facebook as Philando lay slumped in his seat dying. The Minneapolis Police Department issued a statement explaining the change of protocol:
“The MPD has encouraged dispatchers to obtain as much information from 911 callers as possible; asking them to get the caller’s name or relevant information. Callers can request to not be seen by a responding officer in order for them to feel more comfortable in calling in, and they can request to not be contacted for follow up. We are asking dispatchers to get caller’s names, if possible, in an attempt to sift through fictitious calls that may be used to entice officers to an area where their safety, and the safety of others, could be jeopardized.”
Though the change was implemented July 17th the public did not become aware of it until July 28th when the public began to hear about through media reports. The Fox News morning program Fox & Friends aired a short clip of an actual 911 call received in Minneapolis. The 911 operator is heard saying:
“It’s very important for officer safety that we get names because we have been targeted. And that’s the reason we are asking for names. Okay, thanks alot, I’m done with the conversation.”
Many citizens have concerns with giving their names. When reporting crime to 911 all calls are recorded and become part of the public records available to anyone who asks for copies. Some fear if a neighbor is reporting drug dealing or concerns of domestic issues, suspects can easily learn who made the report with the name given and retaliate.
VJ Smith, president of Minneapolis MAD DADS group said,
“They’re scared, they’re afraid, they’re upset, they’re nervous about retaliation. Especially our block club leaders, some of them are afraid.”
A Minneapolis police spokesperson told WCCO if a 911 caller refuses to give their name police will change how they they respond with Dutton adding;
“They’ll send cars but if somebody’s not willing to give up their identification they’re going to take a different approach to that call.”
Minneapolis has a non emergency number or “Tip Line” just as other cities for reporting crimes if a person wishes to remain anonymous, however this is not meant for immediate response.
What do you think? Is there a better solution? Would you give your name? Share this story with others and see what they think about it… but remember, they’ll know your name.
Video courtesy Minnesota.CBSlocal
Guest author Zel Mitzel is a Christian Conservative living in Minnesota. You can see his work and follow him on Facebook at TheDailyZealot.