T Nation

Privacy, Where For Art Thou....

I need more steak. That was the primary thought running through my head as I jumped in the truck on my way to Kroger’s. The store was all of 7min away or less (depending on how you drive) so I didn’t even look to see if I had gas. Approaching the intersection right before I reach my destination I see smoke rising from behind a corner convenience store. From the looks of things, this one Stop&Go wannabe was on fire…and it looked big.

Considering burning and exploding buildings generally turn out to be big negatives for anyone involved, I yanked out my cell phone to call 911.

My caller ID is currently set to private considering I had to call a patient last night and I didn’t want my personal cell phone number handed out to every patient I see.

“I need the fire department for Houston, TX”
after connecting me
“what seems to be the problem?”
“there is a fire at a convenience store. I only see smoke at the moment”

I gave her the two cross streets at the intersection.

“…and what is your name, sir?” she asked to which I replied, “why do you need my name?” Her response was, “sir, we just need your name…” which caused me to cut her off with, “Ma’am, I am about to hang up now. I believe I have given you all of the info you need.”

I proceed onwards to the grocery store detouring around the area where the fire is. Within 30 seconds I get a call back…on my phone with the ID turned OFF…from the fire department.

“Sir, you just called about a fire. We have reports of there being two cars on fire in a parking lot at that location. Are you saying the building is also on fire?”

This honestly bothered me, not because I don’t like to help…I mean, I am the one who called to begin with…but because I had already informed them that I was not willing to give any more info and they tracked down who I was anyway.

I told the officer that I did not appreciate them calling me back. His response was that I need to calm down.

Now, is it just me, or is there some complete disregard for privacy by law enforcement now?

I don’t appreciate being investigated just because I tried to be a good Samaritan. Is this mentality wrong?

I wouldn’t see the problem with it :shrug:

I’m sure others feel the same as you and I can understand that.
I wouldn’t be bothered.

I’m more bothered by the American Red Cross calling everyday asking for “Elmer”.
Or University of Phoenix calling every day just because I filled out an interest form over a year ago. Get the hint when I don’t answer for a year.
I hate calls on my cell phone that are soliciting.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I don’t appreciate being investigated just because I tried to be a good Samaritan. Is this mentality wrong?[/quote]

It doesn’t sound like you were being investigated. The Fire Department was probably trying to get as much information about what they were about to confront as early as possible.

Cool picture.

I don’t think your mentality is wrong, but your faith that 911 operators can’t or won’t trace your call is definitely misplaced. IMO, it is reasonable that they can do it, since if they get a hangup they need to know if it’s a prank calling kid or a home invasion, and I’ve never heard of anyone asking to be left alone after calling. If I wanted to report something without otherwise getting involved, I’d use a payphone, local library’s phone, or whatever else is available and not mine. I don’t know have a cell, though, so I guess I wouldn’t have a choice.

[quote]Uncle Gabby wrote:
Professor X wrote:
I don’t appreciate being investigated just because I tried to be a good Samaritan. Is this mentality wrong?

It doesn’t sound like you were being investigated. The Fire Department was probably trying to get as much information about what they were about to confront as early as possible.[/quote]

That would make sense if police cars hadn’t been pulling up WHILE I WAS ON THE PHONE with 911.

They already knew what was going on, better than I did because I didn’t know about the two cars on fire behind the building until they called me back.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I need more steak. That was the primary thought running through my head as I jumped in the truck on my way to Kroger’s. The store was all of 7min away or less (depending on how you drive) so I didn’t even look to see if I had gas. Approaching the intersection right before I reach my destination I see smoke rising from behind a corner convenience store. From the looks of things, this one Stop&Go wannabe was on fire…and it looked big.

Considering burning and exploding buildings generally turn out to be big negatives for anyone involved, I yanked out my cell phone to call 911.

My caller ID is currently set to private considering I had to call a patient last night and I didn’t want my personal cell phone number handed out to every patient I see.

“I need the fire department for Houston, TX”
after connecting me
“what seems to be the problem?”
“there is a fire at a convenience store. I only see smoke at the moment”

I gave her the two cross streets at the intersection.

“…and what is your name, sir?” she asked to which I replied, “why do you need my name?” Her response was, “sir, we just need your name…” which caused me to cut her off with, “Ma’am, I am about to hang up now. I believe I have given you all of the info you need.”

I proceed onwards to the grocery store detouring around the area where the fire is. Within 30 seconds I get a call back…on my phone with the ID turned OFF…from the fire department.

“Sir, you just called about a fire. We have reports of there being two cars on fire in a parking lot at that location. Are you saying the building is also on fire?”

This honestly bothered me, not because I don’t like to help…I mean, I am the one who called to begin with…but because I had already informed them that I was not willing to give any more info and they tracked down who I was anyway.

I told the officer that I did not appreciate them calling me back. His response was that I need to calm down.

Now, is it just me, or is there some complete disregard for privacy by law enforcement now?

I don’t appreciate being investigated just because I tried to be a good Samaritan. Is this mentality wrong?[/quote]

I suppose they were trying to confirm that it wasn’t a prank call, but I would also be disturbed if they were calling me asking for my information again.

And what is with the “are you telling me the building is also on fire?”. Lol, no I was just kidding and wanted to see what you would say…wtf yaknow?

[quote]Anonymous Coward wrote:
Cool picture.

I don’t think your mentality is wrong, but your faith that 911 operators can’t or won’t trace your call is definitely misplaced. IMO, it is reasonable that they can do it, since if they get a hangup they need to know if it’s a prank calling kid or a home invasion, and I’ve never heard of anyone asking to be left alone after calling. If I wanted to report something without otherwise getting involved, I’d use a payphone, local library’s phone, or whatever else is available and not mine. I don’t know have a cell, though, so I guess I wouldn’t have a choice.[/quote]

No, it makes sense that they can track down prank calls, but like I said, my call obviously had already been confirmed because police were arriving while I was on the phone. That was the main reason I insisted that I needed to get off the phone when I called in.

Therefore, what was there really left to get info on? They were already more informed than I was.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Uncle Gabby wrote:
Professor X wrote:
I don’t appreciate being investigated just because I tried to be a good Samaritan. Is this mentality wrong?

It doesn’t sound like you were being investigated. The Fire Department was probably trying to get as much information about what they were about to confront as early as possible.

That would make sense if police cars hadn’t been pulling up WHILE I WAS ON THE PHONE with 911.

They already knew what was going on, better than I did because I didn’t know about the two cars on fire behind the building until they called me back.[/quote]

They probably had reports, but the more information the better. Also, the dispatcher probably did not inform the Fire Department that you didn’t want to get involved, rather, she just forwarded your telephone number along with any other information she had. Furthermore, the two police cars pulling into the fire don’t mean much, because when you’re dealing with government agencies the right hand usually doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Dispatchers fuck up all the time.

[quote]Uncle Gabby wrote:
Professor X wrote:
Uncle Gabby wrote:
Professor X wrote:
I don’t appreciate being investigated just because I tried to be a good Samaritan. Is this mentality wrong?

It doesn’t sound like you were being investigated. The Fire Department was probably trying to get as much information about what they were about to confront as early as possible.

That would make sense if police cars hadn’t been pulling up WHILE I WAS ON THE PHONE with 911.

They already knew what was going on, better than I did because I didn’t know about the two cars on fire behind the building until they called me back.

They probably had reports, but the more information the better. Also, the dispatcher probably did not inform the Fire Department that you didn’t want to get involved, rather, she just forwarded your telephone number along with any other information she had. Furthermore, the two police cars pulling into the fire don’t mean much, because when you’re dealing with government agencies the right hand usually doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Dispatchers fuck up all the time.[/quote]

All of that could very well be true…along with the possibility that a comet hit the police department right when she was informing the fire department about my call thus preventing her from telling them that I didn’t even want to give my name.

However, in the end, I still feel we have allowed some boundaries to be crossed that we will never get back.

My call was not a prank. There were too many cops by the time I passed the scene on my way back from the store for that and the fire had been put out…which would indicate that I was NOT the first person calling in.

I understand paper work, but I understand even more that people will be less likely to call in if they think they have to give a report just for trying to help.

THAT is where the real tragedy lies.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be annoyed if they called me back too, but you’re giving them too much credit in assuming that their calling you back was some sort of coordinated investigation, rather than the usual bureaucratic fumbling around.

IMHO there are bigger privacy issues going on that you should be worried about as opposed to a fire department calling you back about an emergency situation.

calls cannot be blocked when calling 911, and sometimes they call back the people who called first because they may be witnesses and have more information.

So IMO your mentality is wrong and it is standard procedure not a complete disregard of your privacy.

[quote]c22002 wrote:
IMHO there are bigger privacy issues going on that you should be worried about as opposed to a fire department calling you back about an emergency situation.[/quote]

I agree with that, but I can’t do much about the fact that there is now a camera at every single intersection with a stoplight within 30miles of my house.

Police have apparently also had their abilities expanded when it comes to search and seizure.

All of these are more important, however, I still think what happened here was over the line even if it was a mistake as UG pointed out.

It also shows that you can’t anonymously report a crime anymore

:frowning:

[quote]HangerBaby wrote:
It also shows that you can’t anonymously report a crime anymore

:([/quote]

Which was really my main point. Not to mention that with all of the cameras in the area, it should have been easy enough for them to see the fire themselves (as if no one has thought of that being where all of this is headed).

I am going to be less likely to jump on the phone and call next time simply because I don’t want to get pulled into some investigation. I doubt I am alone on that.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
HangerBaby wrote:
It also shows that you can’t anonymously report a crime anymore

:frowning:

Which was really my main point. Not to mention that with all of the cameras in the area, it should have been easy enough for them to see the fire themselves (as if no one has thought of that being where all of this is headed).

I am going to be less likely to jump on the phone and call next time simply because I don’t want to get pulled into some investigation. I doubt I am alone on that.[/quote]

You got a real point there…
If they think that you’re somehow involved in whatever happened (“everyone is guilty of something”, if someone here catches the reference), then have fun with the whole court/investigation procedure…

Even if they don’t suspect you, an investigation can still waste a lot of your time… You being a witness and all.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
HangerBaby wrote:
It also shows that you can’t anonymously report a crime anymore

:frowning:

Which was really my main point. Not to mention that with all of the cameras in the area, it should have been easy enough for them to see the fire themselves (as if no one has thought of that being where all of this is headed).

I am going to be less likely to jump on the phone and call next time simply because I don’t want to get pulled into some investigation. I doubt I am alone on that.[/quote]

It amazes me how many Americans are OK with obvious violations of their privacy, I was talking to a guy yesterday who was FINE WITH POLICE BRUTALITY because it removes the harm by having a preemptive strike…

[quote]HangerBaby wrote:
Professor X wrote:
HangerBaby wrote:
It also shows that you can’t anonymously report a crime anymore

:frowning:

Which was really my main point. Not to mention that with all of the cameras in the area, it should have been easy enough for them to see the fire themselves (as if no one has thought of that being where all of this is headed).

I am going to be less likely to jump on the phone and call next time simply because I don’t want to get pulled into some investigation. I doubt I am alone on that.

It amazes me how many Americans are OK with obvious violations of their privacy, I was talking to a guy yesterday who was FINE WITH POLICE BRUTALITY because it removes the harm by having a preemptive strike…[/quote]

Apathetic describes it better and it gets worse the younger the individual is because they remember less freedom. That is why so many are ok with Texas doing regular steroid testing in high schools and wasting millions of dollars when most school districts are hard up for cash as it is.

Our grandkids won’t even blink an eye at strip searches the way things are going and those who cry out, “if you don’t do anything wrong then you have nothing to hide” need to be placed in mental asylums.

If you don’t value freedom, you don’t deserve it.

In regards to the privacy issue, there was a shooting about an year ago next to my house. That house is for rent, but there was a time when some people lived there that always caused trouble. There was also suspicious activity going on such as different cars going in and out at different hours of the day.

One night all of the sudden, you hear bottles breaking and windows being broken. Then shots were being fired. I called 911 and reported the incident, but I also told the operator not to send police officers to my house so the neighbors wouldn’t know it was my house who called the police.

Well about 10 minutes later, an officer rang my door bell and asked us if we were the house that called to report the shots being fired. Everyone that lived next door where the incident occurred heard and I was pissed that maybe they would do something in retaliation. Good thing that nothing happened afterwards. The neighbors eventually left about two weeks later.

For me, unless someone’s live is in danger or I see something that is really wrong, like you X, I really don’t want to get pulled into some sort of investigation.

[quote]Jetric9 wrote:
In regards to the privacy issue, there was a shooting about an year ago next to my house. That house is for rent, but there was a time when some people lived there that always caused trouble. There was also suspicious activity going on such as different cars going in and out at different hours of the day.

One night all of the sudden, you hear bottles breaking and windows being broken. Then shots were being fired. I called 911 and reported the incident, but I also told the operator not to send police officers to my house so the neighbors wouldn’t know it was my house who called the police.

Well about 10 minutes later, an officer rang my door bell and asked us if we were the house that called to report the shots being fired. Everyone that lived next door where the incident occurred heard and I was pissed that maybe they would do something in retaliation. Good thing that nothing happened afterwards. The neighbors eventually left about two weeks later.

For me, unless someone’s live is in danger or I see something that is really wrong, like you X, I really don’t want to get pulled into some sort of investigation. [/quote]

I honestly think the people who can’t understand that have never lived in a dangerous part of town before. They can’t comprehend any sense of danger from putting your name out there randomly when it comes to witnessing much of anything involving criminal activity.

The fact that this involved two cars set on fire in a parking lot, means it was more than likely not a simple accident.

Either way, telling them you don’t want to give your name SHOULD end the conversation, especially since they apparently have it anyway.

Why did they even bother to ask?

[quote]Jetric9 wrote:
In regards to the privacy issue, there was a shooting about an year ago next to my house. That house is for rent, but there was a time when some people lived there that always caused trouble. There was also suspicious activity going on such as different cars going in and out at different hours of the day.

One night all of the sudden, you hear bottles breaking and windows being broken. Then shots were being fired. I called 911 and reported the incident, but I also told the operator not to send police officers to my house so the neighbors wouldn’t know it was my house who called the police.

Well about 10 minutes later, an officer rang my door bell and asked us if we were the house that called to report the shots being fired. Everyone that lived next door where the incident occurred heard and I was pissed that maybe they would do something in retaliation. Good thing that nothing happened afterwards. The neighbors eventually left about two weeks later.

For me, unless someone’s live is in danger or I see something that is really wrong, like you X, I really don’t want to get pulled into some sort of investigation. [/quote]

Erosion of privacy and the “you shouldn’t be worried unless you have something to hide” is frightening. But in your case that is just gross incompetence. The Police Commissioner should be fired. That’s the kind of thing you need to call the mayor about, stand up at city counsel meetings about, etc.