Thursday, July 10, 2008

911 robbery call ignored for half hour

Police in New Albany, Kentucky are reviewing how they handle emergency calls after a woman received no response for nearly a half hour after calling 911 to report a robber in her home.

A dispatcher mistakenly deleted the record of the call from the system and didn’t become aware of the error until the woman’s relative called later. “We made a mistake,” police Lt. Col. Mike Lawrence said.

In the time between the two calls, the armed robber took jewelry from the home and tied the hands of the victim with an electrical cord before he left. A suspect was still being sought.

At 1:46 a.m. on June 4, Katerina Videnova called 911 after hearing someone in her home, according to the police report. But the robber grabbed the phone and hung up before a dispatcher answered.

The dispatcher, after answering the call and getting no response, began entering information about the “911 hang-up” into a computer where another dispatcher would see it and send officers to the location, Lawrence said. The computer gives the initial dispatcher a choice to accept what was typed and enter it into the system or to delete it, and the dispatcher accidentally gave the delete command while believing she had given the accept command. “That’s where the mistake was,” Lawrence said.

So the information never reached the second dispatcher who would have sent officers to respond.

Videnova later called family members who were traveling out-of-state and they called police who then quickly responded.

Since the incident, the department has decided to change its procedures to add a step. Now, the dispatcher who inputs the information confirms on the screen or through voice communication with the other dispatcher that it was received. Officers were planning to meet to consider other possible changes. (info from Louisville Courier-Journal)

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