MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - With the number of officers getting ambushed across the country, many police departments are taking extra precautions. But a new directive from Minneapolis Police has one 911 caller asking, what's in a name?
A north Minneapolis resident called 911 Wednesday evening to report a man near 36th St. and Queen Ave N. who was screaming in the middle of the street, threatening to fight passersby and claiming he'd stabbed someone to death. But when the caller refused to give his name, not one, but two dispatchers told him without it they may not send an officer to respond because of concerns about officers safety.
On the man's second 911 call, a dispatcher can be heard saying, "It's very important we get names because officers have been targeted and that's the reason why we are asking for names. Thanks, I am done with the conversation. Thank you."
"Whether or not I give my name does not validate that the call is going to be any safer than if I didn't give my name," said the caller who doesn't want to be identified for fear of retaliation from his neighbors.
A statement from MPD said "We are asking dispatchers to get callers 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."
City Council President Barb Johnson who represents that part of the city says after police ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge, officers can't be too careful.
"A supervisor at 911 can override an operator's first turn down of service, so that offers some comfort that people are going to get service, but this is a challenging time," Johnson said.
Police did eventually show up to handle the situation, but the caller wonders if the new policy puts officers safety ahead of the public's they are supposed to serve.
"My name shouldn't be a requirement for an officer to come and do this job," the caller said.
Johnson says MPD is evaluating the new directive on an ongoing basis and will change it if necessary.
Full statement from MPD:
The MPD has encouraged dispatchers to obtain as much information from callers as possible; asking them to get the caller’s name or relevant information. In the case you’re inquiring about, a squad was dispatched despite the caller’s wish to remain anonymous, as relevant information was obtained. Callers can request to not be seen by a responding officer 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.