Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sandwiches without Sauce and Other Cases of 911 Abuse

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sandwiches without Sauce and Other Cases of 911 Abuse

Article excerpt

Byline: TONYAA WEATHERSBEE

Awhile back, Reginald Peterson walked into an Arlington Subway shop to order himself some sandwiches - and left as a topic for News of the Weird.

Determined, in the most literal sense, to have his sandwich his way, Peterson called 911 because workers didn't put any sauce on his spicy Italian sub. To him, being stuck with a sandwich sans sauce amounted to criminal neglect.

So the 42-year-old construction worker called the police not once, not twice, but three times. When they arrived - after the store manager became rattled by Peterson's tirade - they tried to explain to him that 911 is supposed to be used to report life or death emergencies, not sauceless subs.

But Peterson wasn't buying it. He kept on fussing, and the police wound up taking him to jail; to a place where the only sandwiches they serve are bologna.

While Peterson obviously has some anger control issues - he has prior arrests for aggravated assault and traffic offenses - the truth is that he isn't alone when it comes to elevating minor inconveniences or slights to the level of police emergencies.

Ken Jefferson, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, says they see it all the time.

Some people call 911 for rides to the beauty salon, or to get a message to their friends because their phone has been shut off, Jefferson said. Parents call the police to stop their children from acting up.

Instead of resolving problems through ingenuity or civility, some folks, it seems, would rather leave that job to the police.

"One time, we got a 911 call from a lady who wanted us to come out and scare her child because he wasn't behaving," he said.

It doesn't surprise me that more people are calling 911 for frivolous reasons. For one thing, it's simpler than thinking through a situation that may involve even the slightest bit of discomfort or confrontation. Picking up a phone and punching in those three numbers is, for some people, easier than thinking and communicating. …

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