“911. What is your emergency?”

“Yah, hi. This is Margie Stanton, at 450 Rhode Island Lane. I would like to report a suspicious person.”

“Yes, Ma’am. Can you please describe the individual?”

“He’s wearing jeans and tennis shoes and a hoodie.”

“A hoodie?”

“A hooded sweatshirt.”

“I see. Casual wear. And the garment is suspicious?”

“No, the guy.”

“I see. And can you describe how the man is suspicious?”

“Well, I’ve never seen him before.”

“I understand Ma’am. And do you know everyone in your neighborhood?”

“Well, no, I don’t know everyone but I usually see the same people walking around and I’ve never seen this guy before.”

“I see, Ma’am. So this is a closed neighborhood.”

“A what?”

“A closed neighborhood. A neighborhood where no one can move out or in so there’s never anyone new.”

“Of course not! That’s ridiculous.”

“OK thank you, Ma’am. Is there anything else suspicious about this person, besides the fact you, personally, have never met him?”

“I said, I’ve never seen him before.”

“OK thank you. Is his hood up or down?”

“What difference does that make?”

“Ma’am, if his hood is up there is a likelihood that you cannot see the man’s face. “

“Yes, it’s up!”

“Thank you. And is that why he’s suspicious?”

“Well, sort of…”

“And how do you know you’ve never seen him before if you can’t see his face now?”

“I think I’d remember the hoodie.”

“I see. So you’re saying that this man could not have possibly walked down your street in the past without the hooded sweatshirt?”

“No. I mean, I don’t know.”

“Thank you, Ma’am. And is there anything else suspicious about him besides the fact you do not personally know him and that he’s dressed in hooded sportswear?”

“He just doesn’t belong in this area.”

“I see. And how do you know he doesn’t belong if you don’t know him?”

“He’s not the type of person who lives on this side of town. Please, I think he’s looking at someone’s house!”

“At your house?”

“No, my neighbor’s house.”

“Is he attempting to trespass or enter unlawfully?”

“Not yet. But he might!”

“So, he’s looking at your neighbor’s house while not on their property and not interfering with them in anyway. Is that correct?”

“Well yes but-“

“Does your neighbor have nice landscaping?”

“Excuse me?”

“Ma’am. I said. Does your neighbor have nice landscaping?”

“I guess so, she has a lot of bulbs and an umbrella tree and a little pond with a bridge.”

“Ma’am, that sounds adorable. Are you sure the individual is not admiring the yard décor?”

“I have no idea!”

“I see. Is there anything else you can tell me about this person?”

“He’s of average height, um, dark skin-“

“Excuse me, dark skin, Ma’am?”



“Hello? Hello, 911 operator, are you still there?”

[hold music]

“What the hell?”

“Hello, Ma’am. I apologize for the wait. I needed to get the authorization form ready.”

“What authorization form? What are you talking about? Are you sending someone out here to check this guy out or what?”

“Ma’am, before we can dispatch any law enforcement to apprehend any person of color for ‘being suspicious’ you will need to sign an authorization form.”

“What does it authorize?”

“It authorizes this jurisdiction to hold you responsible for any interruptions in life, livelihood, or reputation that your 911 dispatch might cause the individual in question.”


“Ma’am, you must agree to be personally liable for any injuries, legal fees, defamation, PTSD, or the possible death of this individual.”

“That’s ridiculous!”


“What the hell is going on?”

“Ma’am, I am attempting to explain the ‘Suspicious Person of Color in My Neighborhood’ authorization form. I can accept an e-signature or a voice authorization. I’m emailing you a link to the Docusign page.”

“That can’t be real!”

“I’m looking right at it Ma’am, it’s form SPOC-23.”

“I’m not signing that!!”

“Ma’am. I am trying to assist you with your frightening situation of watching a man in casual attire staring at your neighbor’s yard tchotchkes. It must be absolutely terrifying for you. However, I cannot help you unless you agree that you are solely responsible for any and all repercussions of this phone call.”

“I want to talk to your supervisor!”

“Yes, Ma’am.”


[hold music]

“This is the stupidest-“

“Hello, Ma’am? This is dispatch supervisor. I apologize for any problems you are having with downloading form. Perhaps you need to update your PDF reader?”

“I am not having a problem with your form!! I am not signing it!! How is this legal?”

“Ma’am, I am texting you a copy of the statute right now.”


“Ma’am did you receive the-“


“Very good. So you can approve verbally in which case you will be recorded, or-“

“Never mind.”


“Forget it. This was obviously a waste of my time. I’m going to call my congressman and find out-“

“Ma’am, can you please hold on the line?”

“What? Why?”

“We’re receiving a report of a suspicious person at your address.”

“Oh my god, is someone here?”

“Yes, a woman about 60 years old, Caucasian, wearing a green and white sweater and black stretch pants.”

“Hey, that’s me? What is this?”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, apparently the correct form has been signed and notarized.”

[ding dong]



“Hey, what did I do? Let me go! Get out, get out!”