261 in progress….


One of my last calls on a particular Labor Day morning before leaving work for my weekend was one in which a woman was being assaulted, and as the call and the minutes progressed in which the officers were driving to the location of the distress, the man ended-up raping the woman.  I cannot express how bizarre it was to listen to the play-by-play commentary by the caller as he told us what the man was doing to the woman.  He was really thrashing her, and then he had her down on the ground, and then he was lying on top of her and was appearing to strangle her, and then the caller said that he was moving up and down on top of her.  And the caller just kept on talking, letting us know what was happening.  I wonder how a person could be an observer to an act of this nature and not jump in to stop the man from continuing his assault.  I cannot imagine just standing there watching it occur.  It is beyond me how an able bodied person could allow it.

I couldn’t stop my tears or rid myself from the choking feeling in my throat as I recounted the call details to my wife that afternoon.  The hopelessness that I felt was in a way overwhelming.  The observer did his part (?) by letting us know what was happening in that quiet morning parking lot of those apartments.  He did, in fact, dial 9-1-1 and start the help that would eventually interrupt the bastard and bring the 15-year-old victim to that state of having been rescued.  It took too long though.  When I put out the call to the Cactus Park Precinct, or 900 area, there was no reason for me to have picked up the Maryvale Precinct, or 800 area as well.  The location was an easy mile from the precinct boundary, so I couldn’t have been found at fault for not requesting more aid initially.  The 900 units were coming from the station, but there was no way of knowing if that meant that they had already fueled and loaded their cars or if they were just answering for the call from the actual inside of the station.  To me, all it meant was that they were coming from at least six, and maybe seven miles away while this girl was getting beaten and eventually raped.  It meant that we got to listen to the caller tell us how the man was continuing to strike and choke her while she continued to scream and fight back in that secluded parking lot that was a bit too unpopulated on that Monday, holiday morning.  After about five or several minutes, I went back out on 800 and asked if there was anybody closer than the 900 units who were coming from their station.  I explained in urgent radio-ese that the woman was being raped and we needed someone to get there soon.  “Anyone responding, switch to Channel One, frequency clear at zero-six-forty-eight hours.”  My status list suddenly had three extra units from the 800 area, along with the four units who had initially answered from 900 and were coming from the station.

I drove past the apartments on my way home after the shift was over.  I thought it was strange that only 45 minutes to an hour earlier it was the scene of a violent assault and rape.  At the particular hour that I was there, roughly 7:45 to 8:00 in the morning, it was a very quiet little place.  It was the kind of apartment complex parking lot that was tucked in between a small cluster of buildings that were adorned or accented with more than a few plants, bushes, and trees, or whatever they were.  The morning’s sun was still pretty low in the sky, so there was that delicate softness that the trees and the low apartment buildings affected by shutting out part of the sun.  It would have been a nice place to sit and read the paper on that morning.  It would have been an ideal place to leisurely stroll with one’s dog, or to sit in the grass and play with the neighborhood’s stray cat.  But instead, it was the perfect place to first beat and then subdue and rape a young girl.

Nine-fifteen-David, the first unit on scene, initially cleared on the radio and said to roll Fire for a possible 261, or rape.  Within minutes of that coming over the air, he asked for his supervisor to respond because it was a valid 261.  After a few minutes more, he cleared again saying that the scene was secure with one in-custody and that we could go ahead and clear Chase, which we did.  “Nine-fifteen-David is advising that we have one in-custody and it’s Code-4 at 3734 West Camelback and Chase is clear of the traffic at zero-six-fifty-seven hours, K-O-A-seven-eighty-nine.”  And then I unplugged my headset, tucked it into its black corduroy bag with the little ducks embroidered on the front, and then placed into my workbag.  I turned to my relief who was also my Chase or Tactical-channel  partner, said ‘Good Night,’ and then headed down the hall and out the building…with the caller’s voice in my ear and the computer screen showing the call and incident details in my mind.  And it was all over.  “Code four, clear it.”



9 responses

  1. As a father I want revenge.
    As a human being I want justice.
    As a victim I have no idea how to deal with this.
    As a radio supervisor I want to tell you to transfer the call to Glendale PD, as it was in their jurisdiciton.

    October 2, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    • seekraz

      I am with you there, Noble Sailor…revenge, justice, and who knows what that little girl wanted…but we know it is/was something…something maybe bigger than revenge and justice…something that could restore an innocence that was ripped away or a sense of safety that, in her 15 years, was still intact and was assumed to have been enduring…until something like this happened…I don’t know.

      And, damn if it was actually in Glendale. I have replayed the drive home and the stop at the apartments…my memory of the incident is over eight years old and I could swear that it was just west of the Staples store at 43rd Ave and Camelback…on the north side of the road…which is definitely Glendale…but on that Monday morning of those eight years ago, not a single person, whether cop, 9-1-1 operator, fellow-dispatcher, or radio-supervisor mentioned that it was Glendale’s jurisdiction. I’ll have to make another drive out there and figure it out…to keep the story acurate.

      Anyway, thank you for your comments, your thoughts, your feelings, and the question you posed…and maybe it really was Glendale, Jason, but a woman/little girl was getting raped and maybe that violation of humanity was bigger and more immediate and more profound than some imaginary line of an arbitrary boundary and it simply didn’t matter on that Monday morning all those years ago….

      October 3, 2009 at 6:17 am

    • seekraz

      So…I went past the apartments on the way home from work today and positively identified them at 3734 W. Camelback, definitely within our city…and I have changed the story to reflect the correction…thank you, Sir Jason. 🙂

      October 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

  2. byronhj

    Heartbreaking. As I sit here tears well up in my eyes and it physically hurts to think about the unbelievable inhumanity of the lower individuals of humanity. And no, we are not all the same. As millenia rolls onto millenia and the human race goes on, (I intentionally do not say progresses), one has to wonder where it is all going. I have just a smidgeon of hope that it is upwards in our treatment of living things and forward in our treatment of the environ in which we exist, sometimes I question the validity of my hope.

    I stood with my ear to my daughters bedroom a couple of days ago and listened to her sing outloud and play the piano, haha, I am pretty sure she was not suspecting that I was spying. I often do. She has an excellent voice and is a wonderful piano player, and every time I hear her I am glad that I had a chance to be a dad, and I hope that her generation will do it better than mine.

    She is 15 about to turn 16 next week, and God have mercy that these two paragraphs never get any closer than this.

    Someone way smarter than I am said the only way evil prevails is for good men to do nothing. May I be a good man who does something.

    October 3, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    • seekraz

      What tender thoughts, Byron. And how sweet, truly, to cherish your daughter and hope only for the best for her. As Jason said earlier, as fathers we would want revenge for such an act…I think I’d almost want to enact some revenge on the caller-witness, as well…but at least he called…small consolation. I share your hope, too, that we move upwards in our treatment of other living things and our environment…and if you/we are the good men who will do something, then maybe our hopes can be realized. Thank you for visiting again, Byron, and for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      October 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

  3. dmac

    Truly a hearbreaking story. As if it wasn’t bad enough for the ‘261’ to occur at all, but to have someone standing by watching and not doing anything is, to a good man, incomprehensible. Yes, he called 9-1-1, but didn’t so much as yell out ‘stop, the police are coming!’.

    The sad part that those reading who don’t work in public safety or similar fields may not understand when reading this, is that this was the one that stuck out in your mind, the one that you chose to write about, but I am sure it was only one on a long list of calls that you have worked over the years that are just as sad and just as heartbreaking.

    Count your blessings that you have someone to go home to cry on, as you did. I can only hope that this young girl had, and continues to have, that strong of a support system to guide her through this.

    October 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    • seekraz

      You’re right, David…it is so incomprehensible…to just stand there…and yes, this is only one of the heartbreaking ‘stories’ that I and we have encountered over the years…and there are so many more…some that almost defy description or the simplification of words…some that haunt or touch us in the deepest parts of our humanity…. I, too, hope the girl had someone at home or in her circle of intimates upon whom she could lean for support to get through the situation…. Thank you, David. 🙂

      October 5, 2009 at 5:55 am

  4. Nathan

    It’s interesting that you’ve written about this when I was just reading about a similar situation encountered by Sam Harris, which he describes in his book. He said that he faced several men in Prauge who were dragging a screaming and kicking woman into a car, with the sure intent to rape her, kill her, or both. He said that he intervened by speaking to them in English asking completely unrelated questions using several large words to throw them off and distract them from what they were doing. After he did this (which allowed for the girl to safely escape) he felt that he had not done enough, and called his actions a “moral failure” because he in no way made them pay for what they had done, or at least offer a stiff reprimand for their atrocious actions.
    I certainly hope that if I ever had the mis-fortune of witnessing something like this, that I would act courageously and honorably. It does seem morally and ethically repugnant to stand idly-by while a helpless child gets her innocence pounded out of her. Let’s just “pray” she was not of a Muslim family who’s “honor” would be tarnished by such a thing. She then might not only face the brutality of her rape, but then may be stoned or burned to death to clear her family of the stain……..maybe not in America.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:53 am

    • seekraz

      Yes, I wondered about that when I read the same from Sam Harris. The “several men” part of the equation could certainly have been the significant part in deciding how to approach them and what they were doing. I don’t know that it was a moral failure, though. She got away. It is very likely that both he and she would have remained in harm’s way if his actions had been more brash and direct. We could say that his wisdom or better thinking is what saved himself and the woman from a worse fate. And people don’t always get punished when they deserve it, Harris, you, and I all know that…he might have saved a woman’s life…and now he gets to think and philosophize about it. And yes, there is always the possibility that if she had been violated and lived, she might have died at the hands of her ‘loved ones’ who were exacting their ‘responsibility’ in restoring or preserving their family’s honor…what a concept. Thank you for your comments, Nate.

      October 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm

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