Last night I worked the dispatch channel for the West End, which is the downtown business and entertainment core and one of the busiest districts for police dispatchers to handle. Many dispatchers avoid working this district as it can be absolute madness, but I’m quite comfortable handling this channel, as I walked the beat in this district for eight years when I was a cop. I still know it like the back of my hand. It was Thursday, but due to the “festive season” it was as busy as a Friday usually is. About three in the morning, one of the young call takers called out to me saying that they were taking a 911 call from a man who thought that people were stalking him. We get several calls like this a night from people who have fried their brains on cocaine or crystal meth and have become paranoid. They call to report that everyone in every plane, train, and automobile that happens by is watching them and/or trying to kill them. This person was hyperventilating, absolutely terrified, pleading with the call taker to send one particular cop to help him. He said that this cop’s name was “Chip”, or maybe “Chuck” and that he had a partner named Don at one time. No one else would do. Chip had to come save him. The following conversation took place between me and the call taker:
“You used to be a cop. Do you know any cops by those names?”
“The caller… What’s his name?”
She told me. She saw my eyes go wide.
“Do you know him?”
“Do you know who the cop is then?”
I did. It was me. Me thirty years ago. The man that she’d named had been a denizen of that beat back then. I knew his name and remembered his street name. My regular partner on the beat back then was a man named Dale, so it was not surprising that within a week of us starting that beat in 1980 the street people started referring to us as “Chip and Dale”. Don was a recruit that I trained for a few weeks back then. Chuck is a variation of my name that some people used for me back then. Despite killing most of his brain cells with drugs he’d somehow survived for three decades and when he got into distress his remaining brain cells remembered the beat cop that had repeatedly dragged him out of the gutter and taken care of him. He was still down there on that beat. And when he called for help that beat cop was the dispatcher working the district where he was calling for help.