PACE class week three focus: Communications and homicides

By Ariella Rams

For the third week of Anaheim PD’s Public Awareness through Citizen Education program, dispatcher Ryan Dedmon and Detective John Duran came to speak about Anaheim Police communications and homicides.image

Dedmon, part of the communications force for nearly 12 years, discussed the importance, protocol and significance of 9-1-1 dispatchers.

“There are 30 dispatchers and 400,000 residents in Anaheim,” Dedmon said. “Plus a Ducks game, add 40,000. Plus an Angels game, add 50,000. Plus the Home and Garden Show, add 100,000. That’s not even including regular tourists.”

There are about a million people in the city at any given time, making Anaheim the busiest communications center in Orange County- for Dedmon, a typical day can net hundreds of calls.

Anaheim 9-1-1 dispatch will first assess a call to see if it is a medical or fire emergency, in which case it will be transferred to the Anaheim Fire Department’s dispatch. If it is a public safety emergency, police will respond.

“First we screen calls and if I need to transfer you I will,” Dedmon said. “Otherwise I will stay on the phone with you until help arrives.”

Dedmon went on to speak about the relatively new introduction of cell phones to emergency communication. When someone calls from a cell phone, the nearest cell phone tower processes the call. Because the cell tower, if you’re in the city, is in Anaheim, the call will be sent to Anaheim Dispatch.

If there is a public emergency, like a car crash or shooting, and many people call in, cell towers can get clogged. This makes the next calls bounce off the local tower and transmit from the next.

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“It’s the best and worst thing that’s happened to emergency communication,” Dedmon said. “If the towers are clogged, other emergencies may not be able to come in.”

Also with the use of cell phones, false 9-1-1 calls have become more common. 80-85% of all 9-1-1 calls are non-emergent. This can be due to misuse of the system or accidental dialing.

Often, people will call and hang up, in which case dispatchers will call back until they can find sufficient information to find out the potential emergency of the call.

Another aspect of communication is non-emergent calls. These are calls for non-emergency police assistance, filing a police report, bail information, general services, or general information.

Anaheim Police Department is on the forefront of pioneering a 3-1-1 number to access that information, Dedmon told the class.

Following Dedmon to speak about Anaheim homicide was Det. Duran who has spent the last 15 years in the homicide department, 23 total on the force.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when “people were drive-by crazy,” the record high homicide for one year was 42. In the past 10 years, the numbers have been kept in the low teens, to single digits. To date for 2013, Anaheim is at 4.

Personally, Det. Duran has dealt with more than 200 homicides and almost three times the number of dead body cases.

With a job that can, at times, be morbid, Det. Duran said he tries not to become emotionally involved.

Homicides aren’t the only crimes detectives on Duran’s team investigate. They deals with resisting or obstructing police officers or any emergency personnel, mayhem (permanent disfiguring), stalking, kidnapping for ransom, brandishing a deadly weapon, criminal threats, discharge of a firearm into an inhabited dwelling or vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon, custodial deaths and homicide.

Stay tuned for next week’s class, where Investigoar Vince Delgado will speak about Testing, selection and polygraphs, and Officer Sheddi Skeete will talk about the academy and patrol procedures.

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