Fluke 911 call to Anaheim PD for pizza delivery has a real domino effect
Her neck was hurting and she was hungry so she picked up her phone and made a call.
Mae Hawthorne, who is elderly and lives alone in an apartment in Anaheim, got confused, and eventually irked, at all the questions the woman on the other end of the phone was asking her.
Hawthorne, after all, thought she had called the local pizza joint.
Turns out, Hawthorne somehow had called 911 — although she didn’t realize it at the time.
Anaheim PD dispatcher Katarina Meza fielded the call.
“She sounded older, with a ‘grandma’s voice,’” Meza recalled.
And she wanted a pizza.
Meza, trying to discern the nature of the supposed emergency, started peppering the woman with questions, such as asking for her address.
I’ve ordered pizza from you guys before, Hawthorne thought. Shouldn’t my address be in the system?
Meza became concerned when the caller apparently didn’t understand she had called the police emergency line.
And she became more concerned when the caller abruptly hung up out of frustration because she couldn’t order a pizza.
Relatively new to the Anaheim PD and still undergoing training as a dispatcher, Meza asked her trainer, Michelle Siemer, for advice.
Both agreed to dispatch a patrol officer to make a welfare check on the caller.
After all, they concluded, the caller could be in need of some real help.
Officers Brian Downs and Ivan Dorantes were patrolling the area where the caller lives, on Lincoln Avenue, when they got the call for service around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 7.
They were a bit puzzled when they read details about the call for service on the laptops in their respective patrol cars:
Elderly female called 911 trying to order a pizza…she mentioned she was sick and all alone.
The veteran officers thought they’d seen it all, but this call was a first for them.
On his way to the apartment, Dorantes decided to pick up a pizza for the woman.
“I figured since she was hungry I’d bring one along,” Dorantes said.
He and Downs knocked on the door.
Hawthorne was greeted with two officers and a pizza.
She thought: When did the police start doing this?
“How much do I owe you?” Hawthorne asked the officers.
“Nothing,” Dorantes said. “It’s on us.”
The officers stayed for only a few minutes after determining that Hawthorne, although not feeling well, didn’t need further assistance.
Word soon got around the Anaheim PD about the pizza delivery.
Dorantes and Downs were good-naturedly razzed at a briefing.
And recently, Behind the Badge accompanied the officers to pay a second visit to Hawthorne’s apartment — this time bearing two large pizzas, one pepperoni and cheese and the other black olive and cheese, along with breadsticks.
The idea was to see how Hawthorne was doing.
Dorantes was too gun shy to come along, so Downs, a field training officer, brought along his trainee, Officer Brendan Thomas.
“Remember us?” Downs asked through the screen door.
Hawthorne was delighted to see the officers.
She invited them inside and recalled the mistaken 911 call.
“I was sick and couldn’t get off the couch and was hungry,” she told them. “All I wanted was to order a pizza.”
Downs and Dorantes broke the news to Hawthorne that the woman she thought was a pizza-order taker actually was Meza, the dispatcher.
“Is that right?” Hawthorne said. “Well I was very thankful to see you that night. You are all angels. Oh Lord, that pizza was a lifesaver.”
After some chit-chat, the officers went on their way — but not before a suggestion was made for Hawthorne to perhaps share some of the pizzas with her neighbors.
“Oh no,” she said. “All this pizza is for me.”