Police dispatchers believe what they see on TV

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, residents in the 90210 ZIP code that contain portions of Los Angeles, complained the LAPD sometimes ignored calls for assistance because dispatchers incorrectly believed those calls were the responsibility of the Beverly Hills police.

The initial response, by Beverly Hills Councilman John Mirisch, was to propose moving residents in the affected area to another ZIP code.  Unfortunately, that was an incorrect solution.

Authenticating the origin of a caller’s location is clearly within the job responsibilities of a police dispatcher.  Dispatchers should rely on proper training, and not popular culture beliefs, in the performance of their duties.  The situation occurred because there was no procedure that allowed effective researching of such questions.

Such a procedure would have recognized that authentic information regarding ZIP code boundaries originates with the US Postal Service, and that it would be necessary for dispatchers to have access to USPS ZIP code maps or similar materials.

The Councilman’s response was clearly motivated by a desire to maintain the exclusiveness of the 90210 ZIP code.  Some residents from the affected area in Los Angeles were in attendance at the meeting, and responded negatively to the proposal, because they wanted to continue receiving the “prestige” that came with having the 90210 ZIP code.

The proposal was voted down, 4 to 1.

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