I Want My 4400

By by Jacquelyn Williams/compiled by John Wills

One night I was dispatched to an address from which 9-1-1 hang up calls were being received.

The dispatchers constantly tried calling the number back; each time they did, someone answered, but the only thing the operators heard was loud music playing in the background. The resident would then call 9-1-1 back and hang up again. This went on for a while before I was finally dispatched to investigate. The police don’t take these calls lightly, nor do we brush them off as pranks. History has shown that some victims are only able to dial 9-1-1 for help, unable to speak to the operator lest their attackers hear them.
I was assigned as a trainer this particular night; my partner was a female officer who was on her last phase of training. We arrived at the call location, and as we approached the door we heard loud music coming from inside. I knocked on the door, and a young male soon opened it. He stood there and said, “If you don’t have my 4400, then you need to leave.” He turned around and slammed the door shut. We knocked once again, but before we had a chance to say anything, he did the same thing as before. We knocked a third time, and once again he came to the door, but this time he had some papers in his hand, which he threw outside. As he had done twice before, he turned around. However, this time before the door closed we saw him jump over something that was lying on the floor.
“Did you see what I saw?” I asked my partner.
“Yeah, he’s naked from the waist down!”
At this point, we surmised we were probably dealing with a mental health patient and wisely decided we needed assistance. We got on the radio and called for cover. It took a while before anyone responded so we sat in our squad car to keep an eye on the house, still uncertain about what may have transpired inside. Once our backup arrived, a team of three male officers and a sergeant, we advised them of the situation; we all approached the residence together.

At this point, it was a case of déjà vu. Just as had happened before, we knocked, the young man came to the door, screamed he wanted his 4400, and then slammed the door shut. This happened two more times, and the last time we rushed inside, tackling him after he opened the door. Once inside the apartment, we were hardly prepared for the scene we encountered.

Blood covered the walls and floor. Moving into the kitchen, we saw the floor was also covered in blood. The walls in the kitchen, the front room, and up the stairs were all stained crimson.

“What happened here?” The thought that the man may have killed someone inside this house crossed my mind. “Let’s go upstairs,” I said to the recruit. As we proceeded up the stairs, we discovered even more blood in the bedroom and bathroom.

“Look!” I heard my partner say. The recruit had spotted something in the bathtub, which she thought might be a body, and she ran out. We later found that it was only a blanket that was also covered in blood, but nobody was found in the residence.

We went back downstairs to join the other officers who were trying to talk to the man to ascertain what had happened, and who or what was the source of all the blood we had seen. All he kept saying was that he wanted his 4400, and that we messed up the orgy he had been having with a couple of women. He then proceeded to make inappropriate remarks to the sergeant. As we were talking to the young male, we noticed he had the numbers, 4400, written all over the walls and on the television.

“I’m calling paramedics,” I said. “We need to have this guy examined.” A short time later, they arrived and began to assess the man’s condition. They discovered he had severe blood clots, one of which had probably broken the day before. As the medics were attempting to wrap his leg, the man got up and began running through the house causing more blood to fly all over the place. Somehow, the paramedics determined he might be bipolar, so we took him into custody to transport him to the hospital and have him examined at the psych ward.

“Hey look at this,” I said to the others as we were leaving the apartment. It was a piece of paper hanging on the door which read “Please help me!” We transported him to the hospital and completed our paperwork for the night. After dealing with that call, my trainee and I both had a better understanding of how mental health patients may sometimes act and how their pleas for help can be mysteriously disguised as something else. We also realized that regardless of how the assignment is dispatched, expect that it can be anything other than what the original call was.

The very next day I responded to a call of a burglary in progress at that same location. I figured someone had broken into the apartment since the homeowner was in the hospital. Before I or any of the other assist units arrived, a shooting call was broadcast. I thought someone must have shot the burglar. However, once we stepped inside the location, to my surprise the same guy I transported to the hospital yesterday had already been released, and he was at it again. Note: Law enforcement cannot forcibly commit anyone against his or her will. The evaluators at the psych ward apparently felt he was not a danger.

The other officers spoke with him, and he told them he had not called the police and that he was okay. The officers left the apartment, and the man slammed the door. We all cleared from the scene and about five minutes later another shooting call came over the air. I did not respond back to the call location, but I was later told the young man had been arrested for 9-1-1 abuse.