Police take 30 hours to respond to 911 call

February 16, 2010

Jim Mulhall


On Feb. 11, the owner of K-Jon’s Fine Jewelers called 911 requesting law enforcement’s help with a man who was harassing a female customer. Atascadero Police failed to respond.

Shortly after 10 a.m., a man reeking of alcohol approached the female customer outside the jewelry store. He said he was a felon and he wanted money.

He followed her into the store staying at her side as she moved through the shop.

When he turned his head and looked down at a jewelry case, the terrified customer mouthed to the general manager, Angela Cisneros, “I don’t know him. Help me.” Cisneros went to the back room and asked the store’s owner, Stan Sherwin, for help.

“He kept saying he was with her, ‘this is my girlfriend,’ which was clearly not the case,” Sherwin said.  “I asked him to step outside so we could discuss the matter.

“I yelled to my staff to call the police and stepped around the cases to get him out of my store, fully expecting to be in a fight or have a knife or a gun drawn,” Sherwin added.

The man then attempted to reenter the store. Sherwin shoved him out and locked the door.

“They (police dispatchers) wanted to know how bad an emergency it was,” Sherwin said. “Why can’t they just send a unit down?”

K-Jon’s Fine Jewelry store sits approximately one block north of the police department.

“Extremely upset,” Sherwin then called 911 from his cell phone. The 911 call routed to San Luis Obispo Highway Patrol dispatchers who reported the emergency to Atascadero Police dispatchers. The Atascadero Police Department employee then called Sherwin and the two argued over how long it had been since the call for help, Sherwin said.

“Who cares if it takes five minutes as long as they show up,” Sherwin said. “The timeframe doesn’t bother me. It’s that they never arrived.”

After standing for a few minutes at the store window and screaming, “Let me in,” the man gave up and went to the Century 21 office next door.  He walked in and began making vulgar comments to the real estate office’s administrative assistant, Christine Chersicla.

“He kept saying ‘you are so fucking beautiful,’” Chersicla said. “He got pretty foul.”

She convinced him to walk outside, where he spotted Sherwin approaching and ran. Sherwin, still on the phone, told the dispatcher the man was running toward the police station and watched as a police car followed him.

Though police detained the man for a short period of time, he was back in front of the jewelry store within 10 minutes, Sherwin said.

“No one on my staff believes we have any police help,” Sherwin said. “We are on an island by ourselves.”

The entire incident was recorded on film by the store’s 13 cameras that record the shop’s daily activities.

Within 30 minutes of owner Stan Sherwin informing Joanne Main of the Chamber of Commerce of the failure to respond, Atascadero Police Chief Jim Mulhall stopped by K-Jon’s Jewelry store, more than 30 hours after the 911 emergency call.

Earlier today, Mulhall assigned Sergeant Robert Molle to investigate Sherwin’s concerns.

“The concerns have been brought to our attention and we are looking into it,” Molle said.

Sherwin also sent letters to members of the city council and the city manager detailing the incident.

“I want a better response next time,” Sherwin said. “There needs to be a full investigation.”

In order to receive federal 911 subsidies, law enforcement agencies are required to respond to 911 calls for assistance.

“My number one concern, when I am running 10 employees, is their safety,” Sherwin added.

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Everyones first mistake is to rely solely on the Police. I feel you need to protect yourself with whatever means necessary. Sure dispatchers have to deal with alot of stupid people, but, that is their job and they need to deal with it. Also, it is the PD’s job to protect their citizens, from the video it looks like they for sure needed help. K-Jon is a tax paying part of that community and maybe the double dipping chief should clean this mess up. They screwed up and came off with a lousy attitude. As taxpayers we want customer service, do the job you are being payed for.

“Everyones first mistake is to rely solely on the Police.” Um, no, Stan didn’t rely solely on the Police; he handled the drunk in a very effective way, got him out of his store without using deadly force, and when the man tried to get back into his store, he simply locked the door. It was the lack of a response by the police that was the problem, period. The dispatcher dropped the ball, the responding officer did not follow through, and the Chief tried to cover the incompetence by his officers, and all of them failed. That is the problem; please explain how you would have handled the situation any differently than Stan did; I think he did the right things, and he kept his cool doing so.

Well, my take the jails are full of nut cases, no blood was spilled so the cops just chilled, maybe because the victemless crimes have the prisons and jails, oh so over filled. My Cousin was shot in the neck and back twice my cousin would be dead eccept her brother dodged three bullets and clocked the guy with a baseball bat, the police found him following the trail of evidence (blood), a citizens purple heart should be awarded to him, and the rest of us should always protect others and loved ones to the best of our ability, even if it means getting the car started and running,,,,,,!

OPPORTUNITY MISSED…next week will mark one month since the incident. The response by the Atascadero Police was botched from the very start. The dispatcher could have handled it better…fact…end of story. The ensuing misrepresentations and denials were not only a waste of time but an opportunity to learn and grow, get better at was they do was totally missed by the Atascadero Police Department. I know Stan Sherwin and he requires his staff to study security risks and how to handle them on a regular basis. This was reflected in Stan’s actions with the drunk (getting him out of the store) to protect his staff and customers. If the A.P.D. had rehearsed half as well we wouldn’t be reading this story or the 93 comments. People obviously have strong concerns and opinions about this and should when it comes to response to 911 calls.

The 911 operators do get an overload of calls that are far from an emergency but when the call is coming from a local Jewelry Store they should be able to assume a few things; first the called could have a gun to his/her head and not be able to play 20 questions, then a second call from the jewelry store a block away should be enough to get an immediate call to respond. K-Jon’s practices hard and embraces the opportunity to learn and so should the A.P.D. maybe they should hire Stan as a consultant. Move on and learn a lesson A.P.D.

After reviewing all of the 81 comments as well as re-reading the article several times, there is only one conclusion tht is supported. This was a batched call. But sadly, it appears to be supported by the Chief as an acceptable businss practice. Rather than acknowledging an error and implimenting change, the Chief is just blowing us off by saying he is looking into the complaint. There is no way to adequately respond to the original call without contacting the people in the jewelry store to determine the type of crime that may have occurred. To get to story from the offender and then drive away is certainly unresponsive to the community needs for a police service. With that attitude, you might as well contract for law enforcement services or disincorporate the city. With money as tight as it is, why waste in on poor service, or in this case, no service at all. Wake up Chief and figure out what needs to be done.

The officer was there in 3 minutes. He had the suspect detained. The crime was PC415, disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor has to be committed in the officers presence to be arrestable unless the victim is willing to do a citizens arrest(sign a complaint). If the witness or victim is willing, the officer is compelled by law to take the suspect into custody. Mr .Sherwin refused to sign a complaint (citizens arrest). There was nothing that the officer could do other than release the suspect. How hard is this to understand? The Chief will gladly throw his officers under the bus if it will make him look better. That has been the basis of his whole career. This exercise is like shouting into space.

I wouldn’t know about the Chief throwing his people under the bus, but it does look that way in this case. The only problem I have is that you are expecting the citizen to know the difference between a 415 and a 451. If the officer doesn’t get out of the vehicle to investigate by talking to the witnesses , how can he/she determine if or what crime may have been committed? Was this guy drunk? Was he mentally ill and unable to care for his own safety? Was he stalking the woman? Regardless, if the officer fails to investigate, then his performance was certainly less than what the community expects. For the Chief to condone this level of performance is an discusting. Now, how hard is that to understand?

There is this little thing called the Constitution. I don’t know how to be any more clear about this:”The crime was PC415, Disturbing the Peace, a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor has to be committed in the officers presence to be arrestable unless the victim is willing to do a citizens arrest(sign a complaint). If the witness or victim is willing to sign, the officer is compelled by law to take the suspect into custody. Mr .Sherwin refused to sign a complaint (citizens arrest). There was nothing that the officer could do other than release the suspect.. The officer was out of the car, he had the suspect detained, that means under his control and not free to leave. Mr Sherwin, the ball is in your court. Mr Sherwin needs to sign the complaint. He refuses to sign the complaint. The officer has no choice other than releasing the suspect. You can’t just arrest him because he is mental. He was not drunk. If the public (Mr.Sherwin) is not willing to do what the law requires, then this is the result. The suspect walks.

This attitude is why you have lost the public trust. It took 30 hours to go see the witnesses at the jewelry store to get all sides of the issue to base an opinion weither to arrest. Good job, detain the suspected offender and have the rude dispatcher call to see if he will make a citizens arrest. That was not service. That was simply blowing them off and going through the motions. Your legal lecture was well received but the investigation could not have been completed without contacting the witnesses. More than a dozen video cameras may have allowed a good investigator to have a better basis to determine what violations may have occurred. Blaming poor police work on the shoulders of a citizen who had not been contacted by an officer is not the level of service that is expected. The Constitution would have been well protected by doing a complete investigation before drawing the conclusion that there was nothing else you could do. The facts appear clear, there was nothing else you wanted to do.

coyote, I can appreciate your points. What you are missing is the fact that the actions of the offender did rise far above “just” disturbing the peace. Perhaps there was mis-communication between the dispatcher and the responding officer? This call wasn’t investigated, all victims were not given the opportunity to file a formal complaint. In essence, the ball was dropped and the offender (who is clearly dangerous) walked.

Tell me this, what do you think of a guy who walks up to a woman and say’s,

“I’m a ex-felon, I have nothing to lose, give me your money”? What do you think about the fact that he then escorts the woman shoulder to shoulder even placing his head up against her while telling strangers that they are together and he is her boyfriend? The poor woman was frightened to the point of having to silently signal for HELP, do you think he should be on the streets?

Having thought about this a bit more, the only thing that makes sense is that maybe the “felon” was a valuable informant, and APD really needed to keep him out on the street. Thus, no drunk in pubic charge, no public nuisance charge, the officer talks to the guy and lets him go.

Good guess but I don’t think so. The police told Stan that the guy is known to suffer from mental illness, I don’t think they can use him as a reliable informant.

… the guy is known to suffer from mental illness, I don’t think they can use him as a reliable informant. …. Maybe in Atascadero, he is a “great” asset, since they could possibly “mould” his information into what they are looking for? It would explain a lot …

I did bring that up or maybe just a friend and they needed him to baby sit grandma.

I do not know about the 911 response time for APD but I do know an officer or two of the APD lacks sensitivity when interacting with domestic violence victims.

A member of my family physically ran into the APD police station asking for help. My family member had an active restraining order against her husband. On this particular day, her husband was following her and trying to use his vehicle as a method of stopping her. Lucky for her she had a safety plan and that was to go to the nearest police station, in this case APD. But to her surprise, he husband followed her into the police station parking lot and got out of his vehicle thus why she ran into the police station. As she was explaining the situation to the officers, a question was asked about having children with her husband. She told the officers no they didn’t but she was pregnant with his child and that he had tried to kill her and her unborn baby. To the disbelief of all of us, one officer suggested to her she terminate her pregnancy. The officer also said the same thing to me while I was sitting in the police station lobby.

This lack of sensitivity is unacceptable. It saddens me to know that someone going through a domestic violence situation is continually victimized … this time it was APD doing the victimizing…. when will it stop?????

Well GrayGranny welcome to the cop hating crowd.

That is those of us who chose not to stick our heads in the sand (or where the sun don’t shine) and speak out when we see something wrong.

We don’t run with the pack of “same o same o”.

We understand that just because you might speak your mind it doesn’t mean the whole system is bad but that some does need attention.

Sorry to hear about your experiance.

Now I am just waiting for Roger, Coyote et al, to claim that you probably made this up like Sherwin did. Of course what you, Sherwin or anyone else would have to gain from this is beyond me.

Again I am waiting for them to state that anybody that doesn’t agree with them probably has an ax to grind, rather than the reality of the situation.

You don’t know the reality or the facts for that matter. You want to believe the worst and there is no changing your mind.

Alright facts. Did the police chief appear on the air this week?

Did he apoloigize on the air for his officers?

Now my question to you mister expert. If there was nothing to this as you state then why would he have done either of the above????

My guess is that you will dodge all the information and not have an open mind that there could be wrong doing. That is all I am doing is keeping an open mind unlike yourself. You are the one who can not and will not think that anything could be amiss.

Give the wrong somebody a badge and they think they are god, shocking! “One officer suggested to her she terminate her pregnancy. The officer also said the same thing to me while I was sitting in the police station lobby.” what eventually happened no arrest?

Looks like Sherwin is pretty much the main source of information about this bogus story. What ever happened to real investigative reporting? Did anybody actually check the police reports? I have frequently remarked that when I have been intimately familiar with any situation, and it is reported on in the media, I am astonished at how wrong they get it. I do suppose this sort of stuff serves a purpose by providing a forum for all the law enforcement haters to vent their pent up issues. The only thing worse than this nonsensical “story” is how Mulhall threw his officers under the bus once again to try to cover his a–.

Response is as predicted from the law enforcement hater forum.Nobody here wants the truth, just more anecdotal bashing.

The truth of the matter is that somebody caled the cops and nobody came. Thats absolutley unacceptable

As far as the opinion goes well I find it a little telling that the first person to show up after 30 hours was the chief. If he wasnt arriving after firing someone for this well then he needs to be fired.

Coyote, please allow me to quote Henry Chanansky, “I dont hate cops. I just seem to be happier when they arent around.” Im not sure where you get off claiming that peoples expectations and let me add peoples very very low expectations that the police arriving when they are called is cop hating but you got issues larger than this little forum

No, that is the problem when the reporter doesn’t bother to get the facts. There was an officer there in 3 minutes and he had the suspect stopped out in front on the sidewalk. Mr. Sherwin declined to press charges so they had to let the suspect go since it was a misdemeanor, and it was not committed in the presence of the officer. Now you know the real story.You see, you all were ready to believe the worst that you could about the cops and I doubt that the truth is even going to change your minds about this incident.

Well, the store owner (who wishes no ill will in his community) has said no one showed up for 30 hours, and I think his cameras prove that. Others have told CCN the cops never showed (30 hours is almost worse than never). So, where do you get your info, without citation or source? You come flying in here with no juice and accuse the site and others of lying with NO facts on your side, just your lame comment about poor reporting. You have every right to spout off but of course no one gives you any credit ’cause you have no credibility.

See, you are absolutely sold on the bogus story and unwilling to consider that there is another side to this. Well, I tried. BTW what is anybody’s credibility here Mr. Hotdog? Read the police report. Try looking for the truth if you really care or do you just enjoy the sensationalism? My credibility is in the official police report.

Police reports only represent their side of the story,,,,, er right officer?

8 Time Felon !? What the heck, I thought we were a 3 Strikes State?

Regardless, the police did fail terribly in this instance. There were 3 victims at the scene, not just Stan. The woman who was originally approached and felt that she had been taken hostage was the real victim. Stan was a secondary victim and it sounds like the woman from Century 21 was also victimized.

After listening to Stan on KVEC yesterday, I have to agree that it was inappropriate for a dispatcher ask him on the phone if he wanted to press charges and based on his NO statement not respond to the scene with the ” perp” in tow. There were other victims to be interviewed. I should think the police would have gone out of their way to put this guy away but they seem to have done the exact opposite and come up with every “EXCUSE” in the book why they couldn’t. It’s clear that they could have taken him off the street and didn’t even try.

Cindy, the 3 strikes thing is a joke . there are a lot of people that have been in and out of prison SOOOO many times it is crazy, the DA plea’s sooo many things out and will overlook the strike at times if it (the case) can get pled out and they can move on to others…now they are usually only doing 3 strikes case if they have several Violent Felonies. The Voilent offenders should be put away but I think we look past the thiefs that get let go time and time again..and they steal stuff over and over again and dont learn.. usually the violent criminals (not all) victimize specific people but thiefs violate random people’s space and personal property rights time and again and are not punished..If you think people are sent to prison on a Felony you are dead wrong…many times they are convicted of several felonies prior to Prison being mentioned…then there is the issue of good time work time in custody..it used to be 1/2 time in prison for non violent offenders (thiefs, dopers etc.) and 2/3 time in county jail..they are now giving half time for those in county jail also…so when someone gets sentenced to 6 months they only do 3

now yes there are drug offenders in Jail..oh those poor people..never got a chance..please look at all the outs these people have..they get caught with meth lets say…usually they (the DA) will file it as a misd even if it can be filed as a fel..they get diversion or PC 1000. This program makes them go to classes and test for drugs for a year to 18 months..they can really mess up in this program and not get punished that badly…worst thing that can happen to them is they get sent to a diffeerent program..Prop36..this is a little more watchful ..they have to go to court..ususally monthly and have to go to meetings and random testing and are on probation..they can test dirty several times in this program..they say you have 3 strikes..but you really have several more..many times if you have 2 strikes against you and you test dirty again they will not remove you from the program if you go to rehab for a 6mo to a year…you can do Prop 36 twice and sometimes more if your offences are in different counties..(sucessful completion of Prop 36 gets your case dismissed)..if you are charged with a fel..and you fail out of Prop 36 you can still go through Drug Court…and there are all kinds of things that they do there also..anyway..I ask the Moderator not to delete this..I know it doesn’t have much at all to do with the article at hand..but it is truthful and informative..I promise!