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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“The shadow” said it best.

“If someone had stepped up to the plate” is probably the solution in a nutshell… if anyone in the shop had charged this… ex-felon … no one would have needed to bother with this little story.

Here is a woman being stalked and rushes in a nearby store for help… and all the shop keeper can do is complain about the police.

I find this lack of courage disturbing.

when was the last time you pushed an 8 time felon out the door?

Roger sometimes your hard to read. If your saying that no one at the shop stepped up to the plate and “charged this felon” as in “filed charges against him”, I remind you that the police did not respond to the scene of the crime and give the two woman an opportunity to do so.

As for Stan, he should have been given the opportunity to catch his breath and sit down with an officer and discuss what had occurred before he was asked that question. Stan was a victim and had no idea who or what he had been dealing with. He was given no back ground information, he had no idea if this “nut job” would be out on bail in 24 hours and back at his store victimizing the employees. These are concerns that the police generally answer so that victims can make sound decisions. Mostly it gives the victim an opportunity to gather themselves and their thoughts about what they have just experienced and again, make sound decisions.

After listening to Stan I understand why he is so upset and insisting that the police did not respond. They did not respond to the scene of the crime and interview the witnesses. That is a fact .

There is no excuse for the APD not to respond to this call immediately and to make timely follow up contact with the victim. This all comes down to a very stupid and unprofessional decision by both the dispatcher and responder officer.

I have had several disturbing contacts with 911 dispatchers in the past several years. I have written 2 letters to the Tribune editor over the years in regards to this issue, that were never published.

On 2 occasions I called 911 CHP dispatchers that have left me with the attitude that I would never call them again.

I tied to report a hit and run accident that I witnessed on the highway, the dispatcher was very dismissive and hung up on me as I was trying to inform her that I had witnessed the accident and had the license number of the hit and run vehicle. I called back a few minuets later in a attempt to give them a description of the driver and the license number and the same dispatcher hung up on me again. later that day, I called a CHP office to inform them of the info I had, I tried to explain to the officer that I tried to give the info to a dispatcher earlier in the day. The officer who took the call gave me lecture about how busy they are and then put me on hold and never came back to take the hit and run info. I didn’t bother to try again. Just one more hit and run driver who got away because the CHP was to LAZY to LISTEN!

The second time I called the CHP was to report a driver going in excess of 100mph while weaving dangerously passing around cars and in and out of all lanes including the center divider and shoulder. Once again I got a CHP dispatcher with a bad attitude who told me to call back if there was an injury accident to report. 2 miles down the road, the driver in question was overturned with the wheels still spinning. I called back and got a different dispatcher who was much more professional. I told her I was calling back to report that the driver who I had tried to report a few minuets earlier was now trapped upside down in his car. Fortunately, he lost control and did not hurt anyone else. I stayed on scene to help the driver who was unconscious. When the officer arrived he asked me if I witnessed the accident, I said no, but I witnessed his reckless driving leading to the accident. He told me to leave anyways. I tried again to tell him what I had witnessed just prior to the accident, he did not want to listen and told me again to leave. As I was walking back to my car to leave a second arriving officer asked me if I had witnessed the accident. I told him what I had tried to report to the first officer and he took my statement. The next day I received a follow call from a CHP investigator who wanted to know more about it.

My point is, why should the witness have to go beyond reasonable effort to report valuable information?

On another occasion I called the Santa Barbara Sheriff to report 5 teenagers getting ready to go boogie boarding in the Sisquoc river when it was in dangerous swift water flood conditions. I tried to talk the kids out of it, but they were on the other side of the river and the bridge crossing was washed out. So I Called the 911 and got the sheriff dispatcher who rudely told me to call back when they got in the water and hung up. I called back and got the same dispatcher, I tied to explain to her how dangerous the conditions were and when they get in the water it will be to late, I even informed that 50ft trees were floating down the river and they needed to stop these kids now. She hung up on me for the 2nd time.

When the first kid got in the water I called back and the same dispatcher told me not to call again unless there is a emergency and hung up for the 3rd time.

To the kids credit they had set up a life safety ring to throw out if needed. One by one they got in the water to ride the waves, and each time the rope tied to the boogie board would break, and each time the kid in the water would catch the life ring and be pulled to the edge to get out. After watching this 3 times, knowing full well it was only time before one of the kids missed the life ring and would be killed in the flood waters. I called 911 for the 4th time.

This time I got a different dispatcher who responded the deputies. Unfortunately, I later found out she sent them to a location 20 miles away. My phone rang and it was a sergeant asking where we were. I told him the exact same location info and he knew where we were and responded.

The sergeant was the first to arrive and he was on my side of the river. When I heard his sirens I ran up to the road to meet him. We walked back to the river and when he saw the flood water conditions he immediately started screaming at the kids who were now preparing to but a toy inflatable raft in the water to stay out. He then advised his deputies who were responding on the other side to double time it and get these kids before it was too late.

The deputies got the kids to safety and the sergeant informed me that he was shocked that these kids were that stupid. I told him the whole story about what happened and how each kid got out of the water. I also told him about my 911 experience and he said he would look into it. He had the kids taken to the station so he could speak to each parent about how lucky their kids were to be alive.

The next day the sergeant called me and informed me that he had reviewed the 911 tapes and asked me if I wanted to file a formal complaint. I told him I would if he thought it was necessary, but it sounds like you have it under control. He told me was going to recommend the dispatcher for disciplinary action and thanked me for getting involved, he further stated that my actions saved those kids lives and he made it known to the parents of each kid.

Although, the dispatcher was an idiot, the sergeant left me with a good impression of the sheriffs department.

Roger, you are usually pretty level headed and wise. I wonder what happened to you when you wrote this nonsense. The guy DID take action, if he had taken more he would probably have been arrested by the same worthless cops who failed to respond.

Roger, if only you or I were there, and most people do not possess high degrees in Martial arts and are truley afraid, if only we had been there, I have done this kind of rescue many times in a few different stores, take your pick, you take out the knees and I’ll climb the tree, or vice versa, feel bad you got so many negatives, you are an American with a right to protect others, I have never been convicted of any violence, and I have been in plenty, why? Because like you I am on the right side of the law not behind it, beside it. And only use my training when absolutely nessasary, on the bad guys,

P.S. I trained under Jordan Roth a retired police officer at the YMCA in SLO, and if you don’t think much of him, he trained from Oshima who trained under Funikoshi in Japan, then modified Shotokan Karate to fit the larger American frame, well there you have it, one hell of a good teacher.

Well, now that we’ve heard from all the law enforcement bashers, let’s take a look at this situation without the emotion. First & foremost, the CHP dispatcher who received the initial call was following protocol by transferring the call to the Atascadero Police Department. CHP has no jursidiction inside city limits.

Secondly, the dispatcher at Atascadero Police Department was following protocol by confirming this was an emergency in progress. To those of you living blissfully ignorant lives, the 911 system has been overloaded with non emergency calls to the point where it is just a convenient way to call law enforcement, irregardless of there being an true emergency. If people were truly intelligent, which we know they are not, they would either one: use a landline to call 911 (even if you have no home phone service you can keep a phone plugged in for emergencies), or two: program in your LOCAL law enforcement phone number in your cell phone. So before you tar & feather this dispatcher, take a walk in her/his shoes first.

Third, the police officers who responded have their hands tied by the law. No one wished to file charges against the parolee. At the time the officers contacted him he was not breaking any laws. If someone involved had stepped up and pressed charges, the subject could have been taken into custody and had his parole violated.

Why didn’t Stan contact the police department immediately and request to speak to the on duty supervisor? Why didn’t he or the woman in question file charges?

No, it’s more fun to bash law enforcement in the news, much easier than taking a little responsibility and putting this lowlife back in prison where he belongs.

Why don’t we ever hear about the successes, when law enforcement arrives on the scene and saves lives? Because happy people don’t call the news to blab about it.

Stan, stop your whining and grow up. Yes, Atascadero Police Department has given you a lot of business over the years. That doesn’t entitle you to a free ride regardless of any discounts you may have offered them. Law enforcement employees are underpaid for the jobs they do, officers & dispatchers alike, and their job is stressful. Imagine 7 hours of pure boredom interrupted by an hour of incredible danger and stress. Your day is going along smoothly, then some jerk starts shooting at you. Most civilians could not imagine this, let alone handle it.

So all of you children out there making your comments without any facts, knock it off and go back to your I-Pods …

Great post..Dispatchers do A LOT…they have to deal with people that are idots and call 9-1-1 and the first word out of the people’s mouth is …I dont have an emergency but….people dont realize how busy a dispatcher can get even at 10am..maybe a qyestion would be…what else was going on in the town? before you get your torches ands pitch forks and ropes for your hanging…

To theshadow:

Stan has a right to expect resonable responce to the call. What you are saying is that the police have a crystal ball and they knew that noboby had a weapon or that the man would not attack anyone, by the way the Highway Patrol does have jurisidiction in the city limits–its their policy that dictates their actions and responces.

They have jurisidiction for the entire state…that does not mean they are go to do anything they want in any city…the CHP does not have control over cities like Atas and PR they deal with traffic incidents in unicorporated areas and HIGHWAYS

Ok. So here we hear the dispatcher is busy arguement AGAIN. Alright fine. So she finally gets it through her thick skull and dispatches the unit. Now answer the question, why thirty hours to respond after the call? Is Atascadero P.D. that busy? I didn’t see anything in the Trib in the last week to lead me to believe that they have had some kind of crime wave going on that it would take 30 HOURS!!! 20 to 30 minutes fine. 30 hours????? You have got to be kidding.

So yes, LEO do a very difficult job, dispatchers are incredibly overworked, both are unappreciated, and the general public are dumb as rocks, but I am still very puzzled by what happened. Since when does a citizen have to file charges for a drunk in public arrest? Isn’t that up to the arresting officer? Did the office who made contact determine that this guy was NOT drunk? If that is the case, the guy was clearly nor right in the head and seemed to present danger to self or others, another case in which a citizen does not need to press charges. And I know when I made my 911 call, I was not thinking about pressing charges, I just wanted my neighbor to stop running into my fence, and because he was such a volatile wack job, I didn’t want to confront him myself. In fact, they did not even ASK me about pressing charges during the dispatch or after the contact. So, I still don’t understand why 1) no one showed up at KJons to find out what had been going on and 2) why they let the guy go.

theshadow ideed! You hide in the shadows and throw out pro Police statements at the risk of your own credibility. If the Police detained this person just a few blocks from the store then why didn’t they bring him up to K-Jon’s to be identified. If they had followed this traditional form of identification both the woman he accosted ourside of K-Jon’s, the receptionist at Century 21 R.E. and Stan could have and would have identified him and filed charges. But that is not how it was handled! If they even detained the right person only they know.

Walk across the hall and ask your friend and boss the cheif for a copy of the press release he issued yesterday where he states “officers did not go to K-Jon’s” it is well hidden (like your true agenda) somewhere near the end of the first few paragraphs. Fact none of the parties were offered the opportuity to file charges against this person you describe as a lowlife that belongs back in prison.

Fact no officer showed up to file a report for 5 1/2 days.

Quit diverting peoples attention away from the true facts and that is that the Atascadero Police Department in this incident showed a total lack of concern for the safety and welfare of it’s citizens.

No one is saying this is a regular everyday attitude even though many people could draw that conclusion for themselves.

Let’s all focus more on a positive, proactive plan moving forward that addresses the problems that occured here and helps to restore the merchants and citizens of Atascadero faith in their Police department.

Let’s all stop turning this into a love Police Officers/Hate Cops forum there is nothing positive to be gained by it. Move forward APD and admit a mistake and demonstrate a plan to assure better response and less abuse of the overloaded 911 system.

Finally if theshadow would step back from his laptop and get back out there on patrol with the rest of his fellow officers the citizens of Atascadero would have one more active policman out there protecting us.

Chill, calm down,……have a doughnut…..hell have two.

If I didn’t know any better by reading this post, I would say “theshadow and rogerfreberg” are one in the same person. Lots of talk, nothing ever accomplished

I never had any thoughts about law enforcement one way or another until I had the opportunity to spend time observing a police dispatcher. My thoughts then changed. I could never, and I mean never, handle the telephone traffic (or counter traffice) that they get. People who think that extraterrestrials are in their front yard, people with complaints over barking dogs and kids on skateboards, leaving no time for real emergencies like fires and car accidents and choking children. So before anyone gets on their high horse about the PD (who I have personally had to call twice and the response was timely), just walk half a mile in their shoes. Ask if its possible to sit with a dispatcher or do a ride along with an officer. You may change your mind. And I dont know if KJons expected all this publicity, but its too bad. I will take my minimal jewelery business elsewhere. Oh, and the donut jokes are a little too immature.

Well I’m for one going to get on my high horse and stay there.

First I for one understand calls about barking dogs and other misc. calls. A call of someone possibly trying to kidnap or force a woman against her will is not an average call!!!

Second I pay my taxes which in turn pay their salary. Hence we the PEOPLE do have a say in this.

Last. KJons tries to help a woman that might be the victim of a crime and you want to take your business elsewhere because of that? Talk about immature. If I owned KJons I wouldn’t want someone like yourself that sounds like they have no problem with crime, coming into my business.

A funny cop that I know once said after…I pay your salary…he responded…here is your quarter back…hey do we forget cops pay taxes also..and a little joking here now..since they get paid way too much they probably get taxed more than you do..

FORREAL, Did you think I was joking when I posted and said that what was going on at 10 O’Clock in the morning in Atascadero was DONUTS?? OH no no no no my dear Sir, I wasn’t joking at all. I frequently see the APD at the AM/PM market on San Anselmo around 10AM in the morning buying (actually I have never seen them buying , I think it’s on the house) donuts and coffee. No one resents the fact that cops and donuts seem to go together and no one would want to deprive the guy’s of their donuts either.

The fact is that one has to wonder what the dispatcher was trying to determine when she asked how important the emergency was? More important than what else?

Funny that you said you would take your minimal business elsewhere, because I was thinking the exact opposite.

You have a lot of nerve complaining about KJons! They are not responsible for this mess. Far as I can tell the owner deserves a medal. What planet are you from?

Interesting comments about APD problems with response. A few years ago I had a problem with a drunk driving neighbor who was repeatedly missing his driveway and running into my fence instead. A call to APD brought them in minutes — and it wasn’t because I had called him in as DUI. I didn’t know that, I thought he was just mad as us for some reason as the guy has a really volatile temper. They talked to him, determined he was drunk, and busted him. And it was on a Friday night, when I presume they might be pretty busy? Maybe they just have a bad dispatcher now….

According to KSBY, Chief Mulhall say’s that Stan was asked by the dispatcher if he wanted to press charges and he (Stan) said “NO”!!!

If that’s true then that changes everything. The police would have had no reason to go over to K-Jon’s if they were informed that the complaintant didn’t wish to pursue any charges. There would have been no reason to take a report and the officer who temporarily detained the offender would have had to release him. If Mulhall is correct about his statement then I don’t see what more could have been expected from the APD. They did respond to the incident and although I know that Mulghall is incorrect when he say’s it was in 3 minutes, they still did respond, the timing was reasonable enough to apprehend or in this case detain the offender.

So Stan, if you said you didn’t want to pursue charges, then you have nothing to complain about.

Is Mulhall correct in his statement?

It doesn’t matter if Stan wanted to press charges at the moment the police talked to him on the phone, they should have gone to his location to take a statement so they could make out a report; they failed to do that, and that is the crux of the problem with this situation. After the police took Stan’s statement and explained to him what would or would not happen if he pressed charges, Stan would have been able to make a better informed decision at that time, but he was not given that chance.

I wrote my post prior to listening to Stan on KVEC yesterday. After listening to him I understand why he is so upset. I agree that the police should have gone to his store with the felon and taken a report and spoke to everyone, The officer should have then explained what could be done about this guy. Also the police didn’t bother to ask the woman who had been accosted if she wanted to press any charges. The police clearly messed up.

I don’t think Stan made up with Police Chief Mulhall

Here’s what he and a few others are saying at KSBY today.

Stan at Feb 18th 2010 12:14 PM

The Chief of Police keeps insisting that the “Police” showed up at the scene witnin THREE minutes. Now, either the Chief of Police is lying or he is accusing me of lying. I stand by my statement thst the Police NEVER showed up for at least 28 hours at the scene of the assault and altercation which was at K-Jon’s Fine Jewelers. I gave a SIGNED statement and video evidence and can prove this, to the City Manager, the Mayor and all the City Councilman and the the Chief of Police. Stan Sherwin, owner of K-Jon’s Fine JewelersYou’re Surprised? at Feb 18th 2010 11:39 AM

Casey at Feb 18th 2010 12:51 AM

So interesting… Last Tuesday night my neighbor called the police to report that a dog owned by a man who lives across the street had ATTACKED her son in law and was still loose in the neighborhood, after the dispatcher argued with her for five minute she stated that officers would come. Well, 30 minute later, one cruiser showed up and this dog proceeded to attempt to ATTACK the officer whom had to shoot it with a bean bag rifle to avoid injury. This extremely dangerous animal (who has bitten children and adults in the past) was NEVER recovered. The police NEVER made contact with the reporting party (my neighbor) to take a report of the attack. I followed up the next night to find out why. I was told that a mistake was made (most of which was attributed to the fact that the extremely rude dispatcher never relayed the correct info to the field officers…) and that an officer would be there at 730 that night to take a report from my neighbor regarding the dog attack. They never showed. Ever. After seeing this article tonight, I feel like the only way to avoid this type of dangerous situation is for the community to DEMAND that the police department follow their own policies and STOP blowing off citizens. Someone is going to get injured or possibly killed if this trend continues….

This next post is that plain comical. enjoy……

I called the police one night and told them I had a strange guy come to my door late at night. I sat and waited for nearly a half hour. So I finally called back and informed the dispatcher that the man was still driving back and forth in front of my house and that I will not hesitate to take my shotgun out, shove it in his face, and blow his brains out if he attempts to enter my house and harm my family. Magically 2 of these lazy and incompetent lumps show up in less than 3 minutes with lights blazing. One of the lard butt badge carriers tried to get on me for saying what I did to the dispatcher. I had to inform him if he would have done his job and been there in a reasonable time then my 2nd call would not have been necessary. I absolutely despise the fat toads and the young arrogant morons that the City of Atascadero police dept employ.

I watched the local TV coverage on this last night. It looks like the Chief and Sherwin have kissed and made up. This is typical of local retailers. They don’t want to make any waves, nor does the Chamber. The chief, wearing a casual plaid shirt looked real professional while being videoed. Maybe its time for his boss, Wade McKinney, to talk to him about proper attire.

As with the gun incident cover-up – the Paso Robles Chief’s gun was stolen from her unlocked car, found in the hands of a felon in Atascadero by the PD doing search of a suspicious vehicle, the felon is released, the gun confiscated and quietly returned to the chief etc etc.

These incidents make the Atascadero PD look like a bunch of Keystone Cops.

Bottom line – There was no excuse for not responding. The man is drunk ,in public, at 10:00 am, threatening the public, one block from the police station.

TruthHurts say’s : “oh wait this is a cop hating website…”

Truth, do you think it’s possible that local law enforcement could have contributed, as in did the things that CCN investigates and informs us of? Too bad that you think honest reporting is a hate genre. I read CCN and I appreciate them. I haven’t seen where they have ever reported a story that wasn’t fully investigated and in the end it has always turned out to be the truth.

As for me attending the 6 month academy and becoming a police officer rather than complain about the PD, no thanks, I have my education. I did not ask to serve the public, the guys with the badges asked for that job and we all expect them to do that job without all the BS that the public has been putting with.

Regarding this incident, the responding officer did not follow up with the reporting party, even though it’s standard to make contact with the complainant, the officer did not inquire as to the facts or take a report and consequently failed to remove a dangerous predator from our streets. Seems something similar recently occurred with a brazen gun thief from Paso Robles who was encountered here in Atascadero by our LE. This is not about cop hating, this is about expecting the LE to live up to their sworn oaths of law, order, integrity and respect for the public that they serve.