Police Officers Reveal Everything About All Hands On Deck Crime Scenes
The brothers in blue have a tough job and there are incidents that sometimes require a swarm of cops. From violent crimes to air disasters, these stories are ingrained in officers' memories.
S-IVB_Upper_Stage asked, Police officers of Reddit, have you ever had an "all units" call, and if so, what happened?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Darn them pesky rodents...
Twenty-five years ago, smallish rural town, my dad is a beat cop on patrol. My cat brings in a live mouse and is playing with it in the kitchen and my mom is deathly afraid of rodents. So she calls dispatch and tells them my dad needs to come home. Dispatch gets on the line and tells my dad to switch to a secured line, there's an emergency at home. My dad's driving home to take care of the issue when all of the cops (probably like 4) of my small town on patrol come with sirens and lights blazing on my house because all they heard was there was an emergency at my dad's house. My mother was mortified.
When you're not keen on highway abbreviations...
Years ago, Friend of mine was a dispatcher for the County- he covered sheriff, EMS and fire communications, and also worked with communicating with other agencies as well.
From the state troopers, he got some sort of text communication( not a phone text this was before that was a thing) and it referred to an accident with injuries at the intersection of I-40 and Business 85.
Something along the lines of "COLLISION I-40 BUS 85 INJURIES INVOLVED"
The way it was abbreviated and written made him misread it - instead of an accident at 85 Business, he thought there was a Buss Collision on I-40, with 85 people injured.
He dispatched every damn fire truck and ambulance the county had, they show up and it's a 2 car wreck with minor injuries.
Edit: wasn't actually I-40, but I can't remember which highway it was - somewhere in Davidson. I know the Bus 85 part is right though.
I hope I get to use the line "send everything with lights" someday...
When my buddy was still new, he worked in a larger city. They had just gotten the "shoulder mics". You know, the ones every cop has now mounted up by their mouth so they can call in easier? When new to them, they wore the cord in FRONT of their shirts, always "in the damn way". And great handles when people wanted to wrestle. Jimmy was called one night to a bar brawl. He strolled into the bedlam almost over. He was a rookie, always getting the sh_t detail, so he was becoming famous among his department for ruining his uniforms. To the point he was having to come out of pocket to replace them. He walked into a vet telling him to "cuff everyone still here", they'll sort them out later.
Jimmy grabs the closest guy, they struggle a little and go down to the ground. As they do, rrrriiiippp, Jimmy splits his pants "clean up the backside". Knowing he's going to be the butt of jokes anyway, he turns his head to announce to the other officers, "Well, that's another uniform down!" And keys his mic. Base hears "uniform down". So does everyone else in the county.
The radio EXPLODES with chatter, but the three cops at the bar already have their hands full....so they turn down their radios. (FU #2)
Base decided to "roll everything with lights" to the scene. Jimmy said they were glad of the help when the first few cars rolled up...but they just....kept...coming....
He was known as "Jack the Radio Ripper" till he transferred.
Minor reprimand and he still had to pay for the pants.
An hour-long fight? I want tickets.
Former cop here. The all units call was basically a riot at a large nightclub in a very rough area of the neighboring city. Once things were finally calmed down and the dozen or so people were taken away and my boss wanted us all back in our city I was amazed at not only how many cops showed up but from where....counties and towns I had never heard of before. I looked up a few at the end of shift and some came from an hour plus away.
Doesn't new equipment come with instructions?
So, I interned at the local PD at a time when all stations received new radio devices. The new devices looked a bit like old cell phones and had a bright orange "panic button" on top. It was meant for situations where e.g. a single police officer was attacked and needed help. Pushing that button resulted in all communication on the standard "channel 1" being turned to one-way communication only (so all units would listen to what's going on wherever the panic button was pressed) and an automatic "all (free) units call". All other units had to switch to (the much weaker) "Channel 2" to communicate -- but Channel 2 only allowed 1 device to speak. (So either dispatch OR car 1 OR car 2 etc. could talk, but not multiple people at the same time like on channel 1.)
To disable the panic mode, you had to push the bright orange button in a certain way (think of holding it for 3 seconds followed by 4 quick pushes). It could not be done remotely.
This happened in a rather large city where some police stations are closed at night (usually the ones in the suburbs where few calls come in). That night, an older PO closed down the remotest station in the suburbs and decided to shut off the radio devices. You guessed it, he pushed the panic button on top because he thought that's where the devices were to be turned on and off, without realizing what he did. He locked the station and went home. Since it was the first day of using the new radio devices, quite a few officers were unsure how to turn to channel 2. Basically, all communication was blocked. Cue panic everywhere with frantic cell phone calls to dispatch, and dispatch trying to figure out who closed that station (and thus had one of the only keys to open it), so the panic mode could be disabled. This unintentional "all units call" turned into an actual "no units (can) call", though quite a few units were busy trying to resolve the situation.
This is at least 3 stars in GTA, easily.
Police Dispatcher here,
Usually, these happen whenever an Officer screams for help or when there are calls for a shooting in progress or something else high priority that requires a perimeter set-up.
It's tempting to push those buttons.
Our local school has a spring festival that's a big fundraiser for us. The local police have been extremely supportive, and always send out a VW bug painted in police colors. The officer they send is great with kids and an excellent ambassador for the force. So, bright sunny spring day, kids milling around, carnival atmosphere. I'm walking with my friends, one eye on my kids. My friends have their non-verbal autistic son close by since it's a lot of stimuli. He loves the police car. Sirens, lights... it's awesome. Officer McFriendly crouches down to eye level as the boy is sitting in the car. The boy turns to him and offers a 'high-five'... landing his hand on the officer's radio. More precisely, on the 'officer down' panic button. Like the doleful eye of Sauron, every cop in range turns to converge on the schoolyard. The officer realizes what's happening and manages to wave off the imminent hot takedown of a pre-schooler... but I must say there was genuine fear in his eyes.
A bomb threat was called in to distract from a bank robbery.
Former Royal Canadian Mounted Police here in a small tourist town. Was working on a regular, mid-week day shift when we received a dispatched call for a bomb threat, in the industrial/commercial sector of the town. We all went there, called in the bomb squad, the dogs, got people out of the area, and so on. We were doing roadside when we got another call that the local bank's silent alarm was turned on.
Now, we are in Canada, in a tourist town, things are usually relatively calm. But this. This was absolutely chaotic. We got the All unit call, they call our neighboring detachment to help, we all split and head to the bank. We arrive (around 20 some patrol cars all around) there to see all bank employees bounded and gagged, smoke everywhere from smoke bombs.
We realize very quickly that the bomb threat was the diversion, we immediately got a BOLO out to get the 3 males, identified by the Bank staff, including a former bank employee. We get the BOLO out to CPIC, got words to airports and border crossings. We managed to catch 2/3 of the guys, the last one flew back to his home country (was in Canada on a student visa). We remained on high alert for days after this, looking for the third guy.
Canadian authorities worked with their colleagues from the other guy's country to get him extradited almost a year later. In the end, as I recall, about $130,000 were missing and never recovered.
For most of us, it was the first time we had a bomb threat and/or a robbery. First time we were guarding an area, expecting to be shot at from an unknown location. (The robbers were reported to have AK47-type looking weapons).
Edit 1: BOLO - Be On the LookOut for / CPIC - Canadian Police Information Centre Edit 2: Changed deported by extradited. N.B. I won't name the town or the country involved.
Imagine having to tell a colleague they aren't dying...
Prior to changing careers, I was a deputy sheriff working for a relatively large county in the Midwest. Each deputy had their own "zone" within the county they had to cover. One Saturday morning after working the night shift, I overheard over the radio that a unit was performing a routine stop. He was calling in the info when over the radio frequency, static and loud blasts were heard, followed by "Officer hit! Officer hit! Shots Fired, Officer Down!" I'll never forget that day. Like I had tunnel vision, I high-tailed it about 30 miles over and I was about 3 minutes away (initially 20) before being able to report back to dispatch to inform them I was en-route. In total 3 jurisdictions, 40 total units responded. Arrived on scene, 4th or 5th unit there in a standoff with a person in a vehicle who we later determined to have committed suicide. The officer was shot several times but survived. He was about 4 months away from retiring. I remember performing basic life support on him, cutting open his shirt and applying pressure. He looked at me, tearing up, "hey, tell my wife and kids they're always number one in my heart and thank you for the best years of my life." I said, "you're not dying." I changed careers shortly after and now I'm a medical student. My revelation.
Edit: Wow, thank you so much for the encouragement and the response! I appreciate the gold! :) I rarely tell this story since it always makes me emotional, but I will utter the same sentiment many officers would say, I was just doing my job! As corny as it sounds, I have a tattoo commemorating this event in my life. It's the Sigil of the Archangel Raphael (the archangel of healing)
Where are you that you need all hands on deck once a month?!
Usually about once a month or so. We're taught that if you need backup if sh_t's hitting the fan, call it in and worry about how many people come later.
A unit was on patrol 2 weeks ago and some guy just started shooting at him. All the unit got out was "34th st, 10-33 I'm taking fire" (10-33 is the code for sending the cavalry/Officer in need of assistance). It all ended fine, we caught the guy, no injuries, but you better believe every officer in our area dropped what they were doing and went.
Another recent one a mini-riot broke out at a candle vigil for a murder victim. An officer stepped in alone (bad move) to stop the fight, and started getting his ass handed to him. All he said was "Patomic, 10-33" but it worked. We came in, dispersed the crowd, and got out.
Edit: good chance to rant about a pet peeve of mine. When 1033 goes out, there are always a few units who block the air with useless chatter. "hold me responding" "what's their location" "dispatcher I'll come back to my current assignment later" "do they need a rifle on the scene ". It drives me CRAZY. Get off the radio and leave the air clear for the unit fighting for their lives. And every unit not on something absolutely necessary is required to respond, why would you waste time to say you're going.
Not jumping in front of a moving vehicle is a good policy.
I got run over by someone fleeing the scene of an incident that they weren't involved in. He just got scared and apparently had a gun on him. I was out of my car talking to the person who called and my partner was trying to stop the person who was really called on, so he didn't even see me get hit. No one knew I got hit or where I was because my radio went flying. Luckily there was a lot of witnesses who called 911 and found my radio. I confused the dispatcher because I was in so much shock that I came over radio taking like I normally do, but I was bleeding badly from my head and broke my leg. I didn't feel the pain for about two hours.
So I had that call come out because of me. I'm also pretty sure a policy got made because of me too.
"I'll never do that again."
I remember listening to an episode of This American Life where an officer accidentally locked himself in the back of his car when he went to take a nap. He left his radio in the front, so he called dispatch and was like, "Don't make this a big thing, just send one unit to me." And then dispatch proceeded to call out the code for "Officer Down." So then he heard a bunch of cars put on their sirens and race to him.
"Crimes of passion" are still crimes, yo.
Not a police officer, but I shadowed one a few years back. They had an "all units" call that day at around noon to some house out in the woods that was partly in their bounds but some of the driveway was not (as part of another county's bounds). The entire police force which totaled out to be around 12 police cars, 2 officers each (minus our car which was the officer + me but I'm not an officer) arrived at this place and this house looked like a bit of a trainwreck. Somebody nearby had reported hearing gunshots and screaming (there were a few houses near this one, but not really too far apart).
I couldn't go in, but everybody else did. According to the officer I was shadowing, they found a guy sitting and staring at a blank TV screen quietly humming to himself with a shotgun in his lap. Several officers stayed with the guy (who was totally out of it) and others, including the one I shadowed, went upstairs. They found a dead woman and man laying in bed together, and in another room a young child which had been strangled to death.
Apparently, the man downstairs came home to his wife in bed with another man, and he grabbed his gun and just straight up shot them, but that guy wasn't the one who killed the kid. The wife did, according to a journal that admitted to her adultery for many years and the "intolerable screaming" coming from the child.
Don't know what the guy got charged with/how long he went to prison for, but man the whole thing was just so f_cked up.
Every. Damn. Weekend. In. College.
I work as a police communicator at a local university, usually, an 'all units' call is a fire alarm at one of the buildings. However, most of the time it's a false alarm and someone just burnt the popcorn in the lounge.
My cop uncle once smashed his thumb to get out of work.
We had an all units call to one of our own stabbed. Everyone went hell for leather to get there, to find one of our guys on the floor with a stab wound to the stomach. We searched everywhere for the suspects and anyone matching descriptions was arrested. So turns out the officer did it to himself. He'd heard you couldn't be fired from work if you were injured in the line of duty (he was under investigation for a minor issue, not anything involving the public. Just breach of procedure) I don't think I've ever been so disgusted with a colleague in my life. All the other "all units" calls I've been to have been genuine and luckily my colleagues unhurt.
I almost called one myself when someone pulled out a sawn-off shotgun at me. Luckily that panned out OK!???????
Hearing shots over the radio would freak me out...
We have calls almost daily that kind of meet this requirement. We have patrol sectors, each with a 2 man cruiser and a 1 man cruiser. The 2 man cars handle the high priority calls and the 1 man cars handle the more mundane stuff. So when a call comes in like shots fired both sector cars go and usually other sector cars start radioing in that they are also responding. I do remember 1 night at midnight, which is shift change, we had a 2 man unit that shot a guy who pulled out a gun on them. You could hear gunshots over the radio and the car calling for help. The dispatcher kinda stumbled a bit, then said: "everybody go, everybody go."
Ride along goals?
I was doing a ride along in college in a fairly small city in GA when we got an "all available units" call. The address came in, the lights and siren went on and we were hauling at about 120 (mph) across town.
I had no idea where we were headed until we got there. The only thing the officer said to me was, "no matter what happens, stay in the car. If you see anyone with a gun call it out on the radio like this (showed me). If any of us get shot, call it in and stay in the car."
Then, he took a deep breath, calmly got out of the car, and took off at a sprint towards a forty person melee in front of the only strip club in town.
We were the first car there. Over the course of the next 30 seconds, officers arrived and kept coming until they outnumbered the people fighting. The officer I was riding with was completely on his own for a 10 second eternity and was able to rip about 10 people apart from fighting before backup arrived. It was the single bravest and most humbling thing I've ever seen with my own eyes.
When it was all over, he got back in the car with 3 drunk and beaten up dudes in the back, turned to me and said, "So when you gonna sign up?"
I've got a couple more stories from that summer doing ride alongs if anyone wants to hear.
Military PTSD is sadly real.
You might like this tale from a military base that will remain unnamed! While doing a shift change inventory of the armory, one of our security forces guys noted that a weapon was missing and signed out to none other than the security forces commander himself. They send a unit to his home in base housing to retrieve the weapon and address the situation. When they enter the commanders home they find that he's threatening his family and himself with the sidearm. The junior of the pair read the situation as the commander is trying to get attention to address his poor mental state and has no lethal intent. He decides to fire a round into the commander's leg and then disarms him. This kid ends up getting step promoted to E5 but also received a Letter of Admonishment for firing his weapon without lethal intent.
This doesn't seem like something you recover from.
Happened to my dad when he was stationed overseas, there was an airshow disaster in Germany and he was already there so he was one of the first to respond. He struggles with it still. fireworks and barbeques remind him of the smell of burning flesh that day.