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)

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