Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dallas 911: How Reliable Is It and What's Dallas Police Department Doing About Making 911 More Reliable

911.  We depend upon those numbers, and we teach our kids to call 911 in case of emergency almost as soon as they learn to tie their shoes.  However, the reality is that calling 911 may not bring much, if any help, in today's real world.  Particularly here in Dallas, as the tragedy of Deanna Cook's death is still being grieved here in our community.

A few weeks ago, a young and pretty woman named Deanna Cook called "911" from her apartment here in Dallas.  It wasn't a short call:  Deanna was on her cell phone with 911 Dispatch for 11 minutes.

Eleven minutes.  That's a long time.

The 911 recording has been played over and over again now: even Cook's family has had the opportunity to hear it.  Had to have been very difficult for them: Deanna Cook can be heard to be screaming, terrified, as her ex-husband, a man named Delvecchio Patrick, is heard telling Deanna that he is going to kill her.  Cook tells the 911 operator the name of her attacker.  Cook is obviously in fear of her life and her attacker can be heard on the call as well.  

Sadly, no one came to rescue Deanna Cook from her attacker and she died that day.  Dallas Police did show up at her door, though.  They knocked.  They left. 

Dallas Police Department: Acknowledges Mistakes Were Made 

According to Dallas PD, there were problems. (Obviously.)  First, since Cook called from a cell phone there was no automatic identification of Cook's location and it took nine minutes for her location to be pinpointed by the police officers en route.  

Question: why didn't the 911 operator get the address of Cook's apartment during those 11 minutes she was on the phone with the murder victim?

Another problem according to Dallas police: no one answered the door.  That's right: when they arrived and they knocked and Deanna didn't welcome them into her home, they left.  (They did peek in the windows.)  According to the officers, this was because they understood this to be a domestic disturbance call - a spat - and the silence meant to them that the disturbance had been resolved.  (Yes.  It had been resolved in bloodshed.)  Dallas PD explains that the 911 Operator never explained that Deanna Cook was being attacked to the officers who were responding.  

Victim's Family Came to Her Rescue, Not Police: They Were Too Late

When did Deanna Cook's murder get discovered?  Two days later - when water was gushing out of her apartment and her family couldn't get inside because the doors were locked.  The police were called a second time to Cook's home: the family was told that the police couldn't help them - that they needed to call the hospitals and the jails to find Deanna. So, Deanna's family broke down her door and found her body laying in the bathtub.  Cook had been dead for two days.

Understandably upset, Deanna Cook's family is asking a lot of questions about the Dallas 911 service -- as are a lot of other people.  Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the public that the event would be investigated.

Dallas Police Chief Responds to Public Concern: Hire More 911 Operators

So, what's being done?  Yesterday, Dallas PD posted job wanted ads on Facebook for more 911 Call Operators.  That's right: they are going to hire more people to handle 911 calls here in Dallas.  No details on how these new hires will be trained.  Or how those 911 Operators already on the job, like the one who answered Deanna Cook's distress call, will be trained in the future.  

Feel safer?  

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