Police Dispatcher Rebuffs Caller Who Claims He Found a Bazooka

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) _ A police dispatcher is under investigation after she told a man who called to report he found a military rocket launcher to call a non-emergency number and “that’s only going to blow up if you pull the trigger.”    A spokesman for police in the west Phoenix suburb of Surprise said the call wasn’t handled correctly and that calling 911 is the correct action to take when citizens find explosives or weapons.

    The unidentified man called 911 on March 3 to report that he found a military bazooka round in his truck, which he had picked up from a buyer who never paid him after it was sold. He reached police in Surprise, who dispatch for the nearby town of El Mirage, where the man lived.

    According to a tape of the 911 call obtained by The Arizona Republic newspaper, the man said he was cleaning out the truck when he found the device, later determined to be an inert bazooka round.

    “And I pulled the truck over here Sunday to my property, and I’m going through the truck and taking all the stuff out, and there’s a rocket launcher in the, inside the truck,” the caller said.

    “OK. It’s a rocket launcher?,” the dispatcher replied.

    “Yeah, one of those like the, like the terrorist ones that blow up the planes that you see on TV,” the man replied.

    “OK, that’s only going to blow up if you pull the trigger. Please call your local police department and report that on a non-emergency phone number,” the dispatcher said.

    “All right,” the man replied.

    “Thank you,” was the perky and polite reply from the dispatcher as she ended the call.

    The man then took the bazooka round to El Mirage police headquarters, where officers called out an explosives squad from nearby Luke Air Force Base.

    Surprise police spokesman Sgt. Mark Ortega said an internal investigation has been launched to determine what action may be taken against the dispatcher. The city’s communications manager said the incident will be used as part of a retraining lesson for dispatchers.

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