A cheer for 3-1-1

Most of the time it is best to have extremely low expectations of 3-1-1. I have been told by some not to even bother with 3-1-1, the DC non-emergency number. But I must report a good 3-1-1 moment, when I wasn’t belittled by the 3-1-1 operator or never saw the police.
It began when I was in the backyard checking on the plants when I heard some neighborhood boys going in and out of screaming woman’s yard. It seemed very odd because screaming woman wasn’t home. She’s usually home at that time and well… screaming at someone, sometimes screaming at her kids who then run out to the back. Probably to escape from the screaming. But there were kids but no screaming woman and the house was dark inside.
So I wandered upstairs to get a better look at the alley to see what the kids were up to. Two kids were acting as look outs as three other kids entered the basement door. I watched the kids in the alley, aged between 10-13, peering up and down the alley looking out for something unknown. Then one kid looked up and saw me in the window. I waved ‘hi’ and asked “whatcha doing?” and the two kids bolted down the alley. That’s weird. So I called 3-1-1.
I talked to the operator and as I was on the phone the two kids came back and eyed my window but didn’t see me behind the blind. I described what the kids were doing and then in about 5-10 minutes there were two policemen walking up my alley (the kids had run off again). I pointed out the house they needed to check and they checked the door and went around to check the front. They counted off to figure out which house is the front, as I didn’t know what was the house number for the other side. They came back around and told me the doors on both sides were secure and it looked ok. I thanked them and went back to fooling around with the plants in the backyard.
The next day I went over to the front and discovered the window to the basement was busted and the iron security bars were laid aside. I guess the cops checked the wrong house. Which is easy to do.
But it was still a good 3-1-1 experience none the less.

5 thoughts on “A cheer for 3-1-1”

  1. I guess it is a somewhat heartwarming story. Except for the fact that the cops can’t count. It might be the same cops who booted my car for unpaid parking tickets except they were looking for a license plate with 8713, not 8173 in it, which is my plate. Half a day later, that was straightened out. I offered to pay the parking tickets anyway if the city used the money for dyslexia treatment for the cops.


  2. But Justin, even I have counted wrong. One of the houses is not like the others and screws up the count. Discovered this when I wanted to tell one neighbor that people were smoking crack in their yard. Oops! Wrong house!
    I actually need to print up a DC.gov map of my block and figure out which houses are which since we no longer have alley number plates and it is not the first time where I’ve had to guess what house is what.

  3. The police and fire department strongly suggest putting your house number on the back of your house or fence if you live on an alley. That way they can find the front of the house without having to count of which can often be inaccurate as MM mentions.

  4. MM,

    To answer your question. The town was not too far from the Hadley/Amherst neck of the woods. A little place called East Longmeadow…I am assuming you went to one of the 75 schools up there???

    On 311…they have been great with the loitering issues outside of the liquor store a block away. A few of my neighbors have said they have been more than helpful.

    I needed them to roust a crackhead sleeping in my neighbor’s stairwell and they were there in 5 min after I called. Cop came over and gave me the direct info for him and another cop in case the issue kept happening…seems the CH was known to the cops and they were afraid that she was going to start breaking into houses on the block.

  5. The good thing about 311 is that an operator always seems to answer right away (I’ve heard that’s not always the case with 911)… the bad thing is that their computer system seems to crash a lot.

    I called two weeks ago to file a report after my car’s window got smashed out (a neighbor spotted three 12-ish yr old boys, hmmmm), and the operator told me their system was down and I’d need to call back in an hour. An hour later same thing. Tried a few more times, then the next day… they told me the system had been up but was down again – try again later. Finally, two days after the window was smashed, I was able to file a report.


Comments are closed.