Woman's call to 911 for pizza delivery leads to man's arrest for domestic violence
An Ohio police dispatcher is being lauded for recognizing that a woman who called 911 — and ordered a pizza — was actually trying to report a domestic violence incident.
Mike Navarre, the chief of police in Oregon, Ohio, was driving home on Nov. 13, and listening to dispatches, as he often does, when he heard a curious call.
"I would like to order a pizza," the 911 caller said, giving a residential address.
"You called 911 to order a pizza" the dispatcher, Tim Teneyck, questioned.
"Yeah," the woman responded, giving an apartment number.
"This is the wrong number to order a pizza," Teneyck said.
"No, no, no, no ... you’re not understanding," the caller said.
Teneyck cut her off: "I’m getting you now, OK. ... The guy still there?"
"Yeah, I need a large pizza," the caller said, before specifying pepperoni.
When Teneyck asked if a medical crew should be sent, and if the woman could stay on the phone, she answered no to both.
"I'll get them going," Teneyck said. He then proceeded to send officers to the address, advising them to turn their sirens off before approaching the apartment. "Caller ordered a pizza, and agreed with everything I said that there was domestic violence going on," he said.
The woman who called police is the 38-year-old daughter of a 57-year-old woman, whose live-in boyfriend came home drunk and yelling at about 9 p.m. on Nov. 13, telling the 57-year-old that he was "going to beat her ass" before punching and pushing her, according to the accounts of the victim, her daughter and another witness detailed in a police report.
The 57-year-old woman, who NBC News is not identifying, told officers that she was pushed so hard "she fell into the wall behind her," the report said.
Her boyfriend, Simon Ray Lopez, 56, "stated he did not put his hands on the victim, and he only wanted to go to bed," the police report said. He was arrested, and is being held at the Lucas County Corrections Center on a domestic violence charge.
Navarre, who further investigated the odd 911 call the next day, praised Teneyck, a 14-year veteran of the department.
"He utilized his training and his experience to recognize that a woman was in distress," Navarre told NBC News. "We have no way of knowing what would have happened if she didn’t get through."
Navarre said he and Teneyck had never heard of the method of pretending to order a pizza when trying to make a discreet call to police, but they have since learned that some domestic violence support groups teach the strategy.
"Or they also teach not just pizza but Chinese food," and when the "operator tells you that you have the wrong number, say 'no,'" Navarre said.
He added that he will be using the audio of the Nov. 13 call to train future dispatchers.
"A good dispatcher is going to recognize that this is a person who wants to talk and needs help. That is exactly what happened here," he said. "Some dispatchers might hang up on this person, but it’s worth a try give it your best shot. That's what she did, and it worked out extremely well."
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