Wednesday, April 30, 2008

911 operator fired for falling asleep during call

A Tennessee 911 operator and his supervisor have been fired after the operator fell asleep in the middle of an emergency call. "Our lives were in danger," the caller, who wanted to be identified only as "Lisa", said.

The call begins as Lisa calls 911 and a Memphis operator answered. Lisa tells the operator she was robbed at gunpoint earlier in the evening, and that she now hears someone trying to break into her home. "I just heard tapping on my window," she tells the operator. "I need somebody over here."

The line goes silent. As Lisa continues to explain her situation, the dispatcher does not respond. Finally, one full minute later the sounds of snoring can be heard on the line.

"Are you there?" Lisa asks. "Yes ma'am," the operator replies. "What is the, um, what's your address?" Lisa can then be heard hanging up the phone.

Lisa eventually got help after she called another 911 agency. (info from WTLV NBC-12)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

911 hang-up led to pot bust

A series of bizarre events unfolded for Hyde Park Police Department in New York's mid Hudson River Valley after they responded to a 911 hang-up call in January.

Upon arriving at a residence, three officers witnessed Mark Smith standing in his driveway where he was bleeding profusely from his back, after having been apparently stabbed with a pair of scissors by Lisa Dohany.

Smith was immediately secured in a squad car for his protection. Other officers detained Dohany and searched Smith's residence to locate the scissors.

"Upon entering the house the officers noticed a pungent smell of marijuana," said a police officer during a press conference. "At that point we contacted the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office and the Dutchess County Drug Task Force, who were both instrumental in helping our officers procure a search warrant." Later, officers found three pounds of marijuana in a closet, estimated to be worth up to $5,000 on the street.

Smith, the victim of the assault, was immediately arrested on felony charges of drug possession. Dohany was arrested and charged with assault in the second degree, a class D felony. (info from Hyde Park Townsman)

Monday, April 28, 2008

day off

come back tomorrow

Friday, April 25, 2008

Florida county sued over 911 delay death

Pasco County, Florida's 911 system is the subject of a promised lawsuit from the family of a woman who choked to death.

Nancy McGhee died in March, 2007 when a piece of steak became lodged in her throat. Her boyfriend frantically called 911, and lawyers for McGhee's family said it took too long for a specially trained operator to take over the call. Tom Carey, the family's attorney says McGhee's death illustrates a fundamental flaw in Pasco County's 911 system.

"For example, in Pinellas County, if a medical call comes in through the 911 system, it's routed immediately to a medical professional such as an EMT or paramedic. We believe that would have saved (McGhee's) life if that was the system in Pasco County," Carey said.

After the incident Pasco County's fire chief said staff members would be better trained to deal with similar situations. (info & photo from myfoxtampabay)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drug dealer called cops to report robbers

A Long Island man should have known he would be arrested when he called police to report he had been robbed during a drug deal that went bad. Nassau County Police said Christopher Canonico called last week to say he had just been robbed in North New Hyde Park.

Canonico was set up by two women who agreed to buy heroin at a gas station. While they were in Canonico's car, a third person with a gun came up to the car and robbed him of $340, a cellphone and wallet.

Police said Canonico was charged with criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance. The women and man with the gun were charged with robbery and other charges. (info from the Associated Press, photo from

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Caller was no wacko.
There really was a gator in her kitchen.

Sandie Frosti of Oldsmar, Florida thought she was hallucinating. She saw something big, dark and green on her kitchen floor. She looked away. Then she looked back, and it was still there. Frosti went to her bedroom and dialed 911.

The operator asked whether she was sure it wasn't an iguana. Frosti had only seen the head, but that was enough. "I told them I was definitely sure."

It wasn't long Monday night before everyone else was sure, too - including sheriff's deputies and a trapper who came to her house to help capture an 8-foot-8 alligator, weighing about 230 pounds.

Catching the creature was no easy task. The trapper had to remove a sliding glass door to get the alligator out of the house. The reptile's claws left gouges in the linoleum floor.

Frosti's encounter began about 10:30 p.m. with loud noises. She had been out and returned about 9. She was working on the computer in her bedroom. "I thought that scratching sound was much too loud to be my cat," Frosti said. She went toward the kitchen, did her double-take, then made the call. She was told to wait in the bedroom, with the door closed, until deputies arrived.

It turns out Frosti had left open a sliding glass door between her living room and a screened porch. "I like the fresh air," she said. "It must have gotten in while I wasn't home."

The alligator, one of many inhabiting ponds around Frosti's home, busted through the porch screen, crossed about 10 feet to the open door and entered the house. The alligator traipsed across the living room carpet, through the dining room and into the kitchen.

"The police told me it may have been interested in my cat," Frosti said. The cat and alligator did not meet.

In the tussle with the trapper, the gator was cut by shards of a broken plate, adding to the mess in the kitchen. "There was blood splattered everywhere," Frosti said.

Neighbors living in the neighborhood are accustomed to seeing alligators with all the ponds nearby. (info from the Tampa Tribune)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Man called 911 and sent cops on wild goose chase

Police charged Joseph I. Aston, of Warren, Ohio with misuse of 911. He kept police busy searching for his missing 2-year-old son who wasn't really missing.

Aston pleaded innocent Monday in municipal court and a pre-trial was scheduled for May 29. He is free on a $1,500 bond.

Police reported that Aston called 911 Saturday afternoon to report his son missing. Six police officers searched the area for an hour, but couldn’t find the boy. When his wife returned home with her son, Aston reportedly told police he knew his son was with her. According to the report, Aston was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. (info from

Monday, April 21, 2008

911 hang-up call leads to coke bust

A Hermantown, Minnesota police officer responding to a 911 hang-up call made an unexpected discovery on Wednesday — a suspected cocaine user and dealer.

Gordon Maclean was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance and first-degree possession with intent to sell and was being held on $10,000 bail.

Hermantown officer Jozef Miketin responded to Maclean’s home Wednesday night, where he noticed a woman running into a closet. Maclean told officers an unwanted woman was in his home. As Miketin was questioning the woman, he noticed a mirror with a white, powdery residue left out in plain view. After detaining Maclean and the woman and obtaining a search warrant, officers found about 45 grams of cocaine in the home.

“That’s a considerable amount of powder cocaine for our city,” Padden said, estimating the cocaine was valued at about $4,000. Officers also found more than $5,100 in cash.

The woman admitted to snorting cocaine and drinking with Maclean. She was transported to a hospital for treatment and was not charged in return for cooperating with law enforcement.

Maclean had no previous drug history, Padden said. “He was operating under the radar. It was a good catch by a very observant patrol officer.” (info from Duluth News Tribune, photo from Daily Mail)

Friday, April 18, 2008

1998 murder caused 2008 lawsuit over 911 procedure

When a police officer knocked on her door in 1998 after her third 911 call, a woman couldn't yell out because her estranged boyfriend was lying on her and covering her mouth.

The officer left, and Deborah Kirk was strangled and beaten by the former boyfriend, Marvin Moss. The woman's mother, Phyllis May, says more should have been done to protect her daughter.

Testimony on May's wrongful death lawsuit against Franklin County, Ohio started Wednesday. Jurors must decide whether dispatchers and technicians trained under county Sheriff Jim Karnes were reckless when they did not give the officer details of what they heard in Kirk's three 911 calls.

May's attorneys played the calls in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. "Please send a cruiser," Kirk, 34, said in one call from her apartment near Columbus. "He's done whupped me. Please."

The first call from Kirk was a hang up call at 11:06 p.m. In a second call, about 20 minutes later, Kirk is heard screaming at Moss to leave her alone, followed by profanities from him and slapping noises. More yelling is heard on a third call.

Franklin Township police officer David Ratliff knocked on Kirk's apartment door at 11:37 p.m., but she wasn't able to answer because Moss was lying on top of her and covering her mouth with his hands.

A security guard with a master key was ready to open Kirk's door, but Ratliff decided to leave. Kirk's body was found a day later.

After hearing slapping sounds and Kirk's cries, dispatchers should have explained the situation's seriousness to Ratliff, May's attorneys said in court. "There was a system wide failure by the officers of the Franklin County sheriff's office," Craig Scott said.

Ratliff is expected to testify that, had he known what was heard on the 911 calls, he would have forced his way into the apartment, Scott said. Only the former boyfriend and a lack of effort by Ratliff are to blame for Kirk's death, an attorney defending the county said.

"Officer Ratliff made a cursory check of the scene in violation of his own department policies," Assistant County Prosecutor Tracie Boyd told jurors. "Sheriff Karnes has no burden in this case."

Moss, of Huntsville, Ala., confessed to killing Kirk and to quieting her when the officer came to the door. He hanged himself in his Franklin County jail cell in 1999.

Communications technician Marino Susi was given a 10-day suspension for not calling back Kirk to get more information. Franklin County has since increased its training on handling domestic violence calls, and the county now sends a car on all 911 calls. (info from Dayton Daily News)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tampa 911's greatest wackos

One man in Tampa, Florida recently called 911 and said he needed a doctor because his condom broke.

Another said, "I'm declaring diplomatic immunity. Please send me an English-speaking diplomat."

And on Sunday, Lawrence Tucholski told the 911 dispatcher that Tampa police are useless and some will die. He called back a few minutes later and said Mayor Pam Iorio should be executed.

Those calls landed Tucholski in jail.

Eddie Durkin, communications supervisor, said he's heard it all, like the man who called in to see how many life insurance polices his wife had on him.

A 10-year-old called 18 times over 90 minutes and cursed at dispatchers. Police identified the boy and he is facing charges.

Another outrageous call came from a man claiming he needed immediate police assistance. "I've picked up a prostitute," he said, "and she won't get out of my car. I need a policeman here right away."

Then there's the case of the naked guy.

Dispatcher: "911, what's your emergency?"

Caller: "I'm naked."

"Where are you?"

"I'm outside. And I'm naked."

"What's your name?"


"Jason what?"

"Jason I'm in the Middle of the Street and I'm Naked. Is your cop going to be OK that I'm naked?"

Dispatchers said that calls like this may sound funny, but they are not laughing. Every bogus call could mean that someone in real danger may not get help in time. (info from Tampa Bay Online)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

911 dispatchers suspended for screw-up

Two 911 dispatchers were suspended without pay for how they handled a 911 call about a Florida kidnapping in January.

The night of Denise Amber Lee's kidnapping, these 911 dispatchers got critical information about where Lee might be, but the dispatchers never gave that information to police who were searching for her.

The 911 call went to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. At the time, they knew Lee was likely kidnapped and travelling in a dark-colored Camaro. The 911 caller reported seeing a suspicious dark-colored Camaro and could hear a female's voice screaming inside it.

For nine minutes, the caller named every street the car was passing. The operator said that when she got the call, "red flags started going up." She puts the caller on mute and "stands up" in the call center to tell other dispatchers: "this information needs to get out." It didn't.

The investigation describes a call center that "turned to chaos" when Lee disappeared. A shift change was taking place. Dispatchers say they assumed the caller's information was passed along.

Charlotte County Sheriff John Davenport announced four 911 dispatchers were being reprimanded. Two of the dispatchers were suspended without pay, then put on probation, and will undergo more training. The two others were to be counseled.

One of the dispatchers openly admitted: "I screwed up."

But all of it is of little comfort to the family of Denise Amber Lee. "Obviouslywe're not happy. Mistakes were made, and we'll leave it at that," says Denise's father, Sgt. Rick Goff of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. Goff said he might consider legal action against the Sheriff's Office. (info & photo from WWSB TV)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

15 punished for 911 screw-up

Brenda Orr of Doylestown, Pennsylvania was trapped in a burning bed, immobilized by multiple sclerosis, when she dialed 911 on Jan. 29. Twenty-eight seconds passed before a 911 dispatcher answered her call, and her put her on hold and it took 26 more seconds for a second dispatcher to pick up.

"911. The bed is on fire," Orr yelled into her phone.

By then a minute had elapsed since Orr had first dialed. A half-minute later, she spoke her final words before the phone went dead.

"The bed is fully inflamed," she said.

Bucks County officials, acknowledging that Orr's call had been mishandled, announced that 11 dispatchers and four supervisors had been disciplined for their roles in dealing with it.

Orr died in the quick-moving house fire. While a faster response by the dispatchers would not have saved her, "mistakes were made, and for those mistakes we are truly sorry," said James F. Cawley, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners.

Under county regulations, the phone should have been answered within 10 seconds, and Orr should not have been placed on hold. In a dispatch center where answering the phone is a basic duty, 10 unoccupied dispatchers sat by and let it ring. Orr's call finally was taken by a frustrated dispatcher who already was juggling an ambulance call.

"While the phone was ringing six times, there were 10 people on duty who were capable of answering the phone call who failed to do so," Cawley said. "That was wrong."

Had one of them answered, there would have been no need to put Orr on hold. All 10 were disciplined, along with the dispatcher who, by taking the call, violated rules by trying to handle two calls at once.

"911. Can you hold one second please?" the dispatcher is heard saying to Orr on a recording of the call.

"I can't," Orr responds. "This is an emergency, 911 emergency. . . . Bed on fire."

The dispatcher then summoned another dispatcher, who did not get to the phone for 25 seconds. The second dispatcher, who had been occupied with receiving a fax, has not been disciplined.

The first dispatcher had picked up the call "out of frustration," said Brent Wiggins, the county's director of emergency services. He said none of the 10 idle dispatchers could explain why the call was not answered right away.

"They were off-base. They weren't paying attention to their job. They were just not doing their job properly," Wiggins said. "That's the bottom line. . . . One or two said they thought someone else was going to pick up the phone."

Of four supervisors on duty, three had gone to a meeting - on training fire dispatchers. That left just one to monitor the room. And that supervisor was "working on reports," according to the county's investigative summary. "No supervisor was actively monitoring the dispatch floor at the time of the call."

All four supervisors were disciplined.

The county's findings came after Doylestown Borough police reviewed the 911 call as part of their investigation into the fire. Alerted by police, borough officials demanded an explanation from the county.

Police and firefighters arrived at Orr's house in better-than-average time, Cawley said. The first rescuers were there less than four minutes after Orr's call, but by then the fire was too intense for them to reach her.

Department policy now requires at least two supervisors to monitor the dispatch floor at all times. And a policy that implied that 911 calls were never to be put on hold has now been made explicit, he said. (info from Philadelphia Inquirer)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Child pranksters told 911 they were abducted

Two Pennsylvania kids could face charges for making prank 911 phone calls claiming they were kidnapped. On Saturday, 911 dispatchers received several calls from a cellphone caller who said she was from Pittsburgh and that she and her cousin had been able to escape from their captors, but were being chased by two men in a green Jeep.

When police looked into it, they found nothing, but the FBI got involved, too. The Tuscarawas County Sheriff Department's K-9 unit and the New Philadelphia Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol searched the area by foot and air.

Detectives finally located the two kids, an 8-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl. They both admitted to making the calls, and denied being kidnapped. The Tuscarawas County Prosecutor is looking into the case to determine if charges will be filed. (info from WKYV TV)

Friday, April 11, 2008

911 dispatcher arrested for call recording

A West Virginia 911 dispatcher has been arrested on charges that she improperly used the county's emergency phone system. Casey Morgan Buckhannon was arraigned Thursday evening in Upshur County and released on $25,000 bond.

Morgan was charged with obstructing an officer and improper use of the 911 system. According to the criminal complaint, in September of 2007, Morgan allegedly used the emergency phone system to record a conversation between a law enforcement officer and a citizen upon the request of that citizen.

The complaint says that recording was to be given to a CBS affiliate in Clarksburg. It's not known what that conversation was about. (Info from The State Journal)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unhappy with cops, bartender fined for 911 call

A Chetek, Wisconsin man was found guilty of a unlawful use of a telephone after making a false emergency phone call.

According to the criminal complaint, Timothy L. Johnson called 911 in April 2007, identified himself and explained he was the owner of Red's in Chetek. The bar and restaurant had been the subject of a break-in and Johnson stated he was not happy with the services provided by the local police. The dispatch officer told him to contact the Chetek Police Chief because the Chetek officer had left the bar and restaurant and was assisting deputies with a stabbing. The dispatcher told Johnson he would attempt to get a deputy to assist, but noted they were all tied up with calls.

Johnson then replied, "You think a stabbing incident is something, you better get someone down here because the next call will be someone dead on the ground."

Johnson called a second time and told the dispatcher that he had a guy on the ground. A deputy went to the establishment and smelled alcohol on Johnson. When the deputy asked why he called 911 and advised the dispatcher he was holding a subject, Johnson stated he did that because he was not happy with the law enforcement response to his complaint and needed an officer to clear the building.

Johnson was found guilty due to a no contest plea and was fined $249. (info from the Chetek Alert) (photo is of a student from The New York Bartending School of South Florida, not Timothy L. Johnson)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Son killed parents, then called 911

The 911 call was blunt: "I just killed my parents."

Allen Park, Michigan, police say the 911 call is the first time Justin Olszowy, 26, admitted killing his parents, Jerome and Patricia. They were shot on the front porch of their home on Monday. Several shots from a handgun struck the couple.

Neighbors said Justin was one of three children and lived in the house. Police said he confessed again later Monday.

Police Chief Dean Tamsen alleged Justin shot his parents multiple times from inside through the doorway and a window.

"He was not a person who was in trouble, but he was a very young, troubled boy," a neighbor said. (info from the Detroit News)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Assailant called 911 to blame phantom kidnapper

An Ayden, North Carolina man is in trouble with the law after he head-butted his girlfriend and tried to cover up the crime by blaming a non-existent kidnapper.

Jeronimo Rubio called the 911 center Friday morning claiming an armed gunman came into his house and took the woman and two children and drove away in a white vehicle.

Deputies from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office as well as officers from the Fremont Police department went to the house. Investigation revealed that Rubio had assaulted the woman and she had fled with her children.

Det. Sgt. Rick Farfour contacted the victim and determined that Rubio had called 911. Rubio was charged with Filing a False Report, Resisting a Public Officer, Misuse of 911 system, and Assault Inflicting serious Injury (info from WITN TV, WNCT TV and Goldsboro News-Argus )

Monday, April 7, 2008

Man who called 911 about shooting, really wanted quiet

A man from Manchester, New Hampshire faces charges after allegedly telling 911 dispatchers that he shot someone. Police say Jimmy Tyler called 911 Friday night identifying himself as "Mister T." When police responded to his home, they evacuated the apartment building and shut down the road.

It turns out Tyler was frustrated with a loud party next door and wanted a quicker response from police. He is charged with making a false report to law enforcement and is in jail on $2,500 cash bail. Police say he has a criminal history of theft and assault. (info from WMUR TV)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wacko called 911 to report himself

A man who was arrested in Springfield, Illinois Monday night for firing shots outside a home, apparently fired no shots at all, though he did threaten to kill the residents and set the house on fire. Fredrick J. Tremain was taken to Sangamon County Jail after fleeing from police.

Grandview Police Chief Mike Feleccia said Tremain recently was kicked out of the home because of a drinking problem. Monday night, he called the house and threatened the residents. A short time later, 911 received a call that a man named “Joe-Joe” was outside the house, had shot a gun five times and was threatening to kill everyone.

Feleccia said that police determined “Joe-Joe” was Tremain, and that he called 911 himself pretending to be one of the residents inside. The residents told officers they never heard any gunshots and that they never called 911 to say Tremain had a gun.

“As far as I could tell, there was no gun, there were no shots fired. It’s just that Mr. Tremain was calling in this false call for whatever reason,” Feleccia said.
Charges being sought against Tremain include intimidation, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault and making a false 911 call. (info from Springfield Journal-Register)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Man jailed for pestering 911 for ride to shelter

It wasn't the shelter he was looking for, but a man's actions at the bus station Friday night got him out of the cold. James Harrison was placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail on charges that he assaulted a Fredericksburg, Virginia police officer and refused to stop calling 911.

According to police, the man called 911 about 9PM and told a dispatcher that he wanted a ride to the cold weather shelter. The dispatcher told the caller that police couldn't accommodate the request, in part because the shelter is closed for the season.

The man called 911 again and this time an officer was sent to the bus station. Harrison had been previously barred from the station. Police said the man refused to leave the area and called 911 twice more after officers arrived.

When an officer tried to take the phone from him and hang it up, Harrison hit the officer in the chest twice and kicked him in the leg. He was charged with assault on a police officer, trespassing and abuse of the 911 system. He was jailed under a $1,500 bond. (info from Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Child died when religious parents delayed 911 call

The mother of an 11-year-old girl in Weston, Wisconsin who died of untreated diabetes said that she did not know her daughter was terminally ill as she prayed for her to get better. Madeline Neumann died Sunday from an undiagnosed and treatable form of diabetes.

Her mother, Leilani Neumann said she never expected her daughter to die. The family believes in the Bible, and it says healing comes from God, but they are "not crazy, religious people and they have nothing against doctors," she said.

The girl’s father, Dale Neumann, a former police officer, said he has friends who are doctors. He started CPR “as soon as the breath of life left” his daughter’s body, he said. Other family members called 911 to seek emergency help, Leilani Neumann said. “We are remaining strong for our children,” she said. “Only our faith in God is giving us strength at this time.” They have three other children.

Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin has said an autopsy determined Madeline died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body. She had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, he said. She had not been diagnosed with the ailment previously, he said.

The girl was in public school last semester and being home schooled this semester, Vergin said. But Leilani Neumann said her daughter, a straight A student, was in good health until recently.

“We just noticed a tiredness within the past two weeks,” she said. “And then just the day before and that day (she died), it suddenly just went to a more serious situation. We stayed fast in prayer then. We believed that she would recover. We saw signs that to us, it looked like she was recovering.” Her daughter had no fever and there was warmth in her body, she explained. The family does not belong to an organized religion or faith, Leilani Neumann said.

She said the family is not worried about a police investigation into her daughter’s death because “our lives are in God’s hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do.”

Vergin said he expect the investigation to wrap up by Friday and the findings to be forwarded to the district attorney to review for possible charges.

The family moved to Weston from California about two years ago to open a coffee shop and be closer to other relatives, the Neumanns said. They live in the rural town of Weston, in a modern, middle class home in the woods.

Officers went to the home after a relative in California asked police to check on the girl. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to Vergin, the parents told investigators Madeline last saw a doctor when she was three. The girl had attended public school during the first semester but didn’t return for the second semester.

Mrs. Neumann said she deeply loves all her children and has nurtured them spiritually, emotionally and physically. “Our lives are in God’s hands and whatever we go through we are just going to trust him,” she said. “We need healing. We are going through the healing process.” (info from the Wausau Daily Herald)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Old cellphone kept calling 911,
hundreds of times

Operators at the Black Hawk County Consolidated Communications Center in eastern Iowa received about 400 calls from the same cellphone last fall, and no caller said anything.

Officials can't locate the phone but have figured out that it is an old phone not currently associated with a cellphone provider. Under FCC rules, such phones can still place 911 calls. The phone can't receive calls, and emergency workers haven't been able to track the owner through service records, either. "We are pretty helpless," said Judy Flores, the center's administrative supervisor.

Officials are suspicious that it could be a prank, but they say it's not funny and is potentially dangerous. Until the source of the calls is found or they stop, dispatchers answer every call, in case someone is calling about a real emergency. (info from The Associated Press)