The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Budd McLaughlin

July 16, 2013

A brief glimpse into the world of our dispatchers

— When you work in a newsroom, you hear a lot of strange things.

Employees say strange things and make strange obversations and noises.

The strange things we hear, however, are no match for what our emergency dispatchers hear on an hourly basis. Luckily for you, the newsroom staff has collected a lot of the funnier, lighter moments of emergency scanner traffic and I’m happy to share them with you.

Many of these observations go all the way back to February, because it was my intent to start running them on a weekly basis. But until I can find a suitable day and way to display them properly, here are a few of the highlights of what we’ve compiled.

We would also like to thank the hard-working men and women who take these calls from concerned citizens and respond to them. Their efforts are to be commended.

So, without further adieu:

• Complainant advised a man was knocking on her door and would not stop until she opened it. When she did, he cursed at her.

• Be on the lookout for a blue Mustang near Goody’s. A subject is hanging out the window making obscene gestures.

• Dispatcher 1: “We’ve got a welfare check on a 97-year old. Relative said they hadn’t heard from her in a few days.”

Dispatcher 2: “She lives in a nursing home.”

Dispatcher 1: “Are you sure? Relative wants to know how long subject has lived in nursing home.”

Dispatcher 2: “At least three or four years.”

• Call in reference to a burglary. Complainant was missing old pots and pans from a shed.

• Call reporting a pit bull, boxer and Labrador chasing a neighbor.

• Call in reference to a customer at Walmart who cannot get into her car. The truck beside her is loaded down with trees, and she cannot open her door.

• A call in reference to a man in a truck at Sonic wearing no pants.

• Be on the lookout for a blue pickup truck with two donkeys standing, unsecured, in the bed.

• Be advised a skunk is on their front porch, and it’s acting kind of crazy.

• “You hungry this morning?” “Nah, I’m just taking care of a few things.”

• Caller said a black sports car is stuck (in the mud) somewhere it’s not supposed to be. (The driver) is using a garbage can lid, trying to get out.

• Woman in black SUV calls Athens police to say an angry motorist in a red truck was trying to run her off the road. When police found and stopped the red truck, the woman driving it told police the SUV driver had been texting while driving and she was simply trying to flag her down to tell her not to do that.

• Caller advised a city truck ran over headstone in city cemetery.

• Call advising a 44-year-old female was upset because her mother cooked food that she didn’t want.

• Animal welfare check: “I explained that to the 10-72 (complainant), and he said there is no way a cow can be born that deformed.”

• Engine (undecipherable), medical call to The Lion’s Den; 24-year-old male is numb.

• “I made some chicken n’ dumplins’… I was gonna eat that later.”

• While you’re here, swap out your large drug bag.”

Stay tuned; we’ll feature more of these lighter moments in the future.

— Managing editor Adam Smith can be reached at

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Budd McLaughlin


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