Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicago 911 calls are disappearing

Stacked-up calls to Chicago's 911 emergency center are "disappearing completely" from computer screens because of glitches in a $6 million upgrade to the dispatch system.

Just last month, Mayor Daley showcased the upgrade, which lets call takers and dispatchers see real-time video from surveillance cameras within 150 feet of any 911 call.

But then problems started cropping up, apparently tied to the computers installed three weeks ago as part of the upgrade. Calls that are "stacked" because police officers are responding to higher-priority calls have been "disappearing completely" from computer screens, sources said.

"They simply vanish and no record can be recalled or found," said a 911 call taker who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. "I would not want my family to call needing the police and expecting the police to show up only to find out the call has disappeared from the system completely."

The city was promised that its on-screen mapping system would show railroad crossings to assist in rerouting emergency vehicles. But that hasn't happened.

Jennifer Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, characterized the vanishing calls as a "display issue." She insisted that no "Priority One" calls are ever stacked and that no calls have gone unanswered.

"It's a minor issue with stacked calls. It's not that they disappear. It's just the display. If there's three jobs, you may only see one. But, they remain on the system, and dispatchers are still sending those jobs out," she said. "We haven't lost any of the records. The record remains in the system."

As for the railroad crossing problem, Martinez acknowledged that "only a handful" of work stations have the upgrade. "It's being rolled out in a phased approach," she said.

The computer problems are reminiscent of those that followed the 1995 opening of Chicago's 911 center. Burned before by a faulty computer-aided dispatch system, the Chicago Fire Department waited a year to move into the 911 center and continued to dispatch emergency vehicles manually for months after they got there because of computer software problems.

"Any time you do any computer upgrades, you experience some issues," Martinez said Thursday. "Considering this is the first major upgrade they've done in 10 years, they've been extremely pleased with the technology." (photo & info from the Chicago Sun-Times)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Drunk woman was arrested for calling 911 and asking to be arrested

A woman in Tampa, Florida who called police because her roommate took her beer out of her hand ended up with both hands in handcuffs

Evon Cavett called police around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. When they arrived, she was drinking a 40-ounce bottle of Bud Light. Confused, she told officers she hadn't called them. She then admitted she'd consumed six 16-ounce beers and planned to drink more. Officers assured her she had called, and left.

Cavett called 911 again at 2:46 a.m. to ask why officers arrived at her house and complained that she had never called them before. "I called y'all about five or six hours ago 'cuz a drug deal was going down," she slurred. The operator assured Cavett she had called just 10 minutes ago.

The same officers returned to Cavett's apartment to warn about misusing the 911 system. They told her that if she called again without an emergency, she'd be arrested.

After the officers left, Cavett called again at 3:02 a.m. and told the 911 operator, "Come arrest me!" And the cops did.

She screamed profanities when officers ordered her to stand and put down the beer. Officers took the drink away, stood her up, cuffed her and led her out of the building while she screamed.

Cavett was charged with misuse of the 911 system, resisiting arrest and disorderly conduct. "We arrested her because we wanted to deter others from abusing the 911 system," police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said. "We need officers available for real emergencies." (info from TampaBay.com)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bank robber called 911 and got arrested

Police caught a bumbling bank robber in Bridgeport, Connecticut who crashed his getaway car and fled by bus and taxi, then made it home and found his roommate dead.

On the morning of January 29, David Maksimik made off with about $3,700 from a branch of People's United Bank in Darien after showing a teller a gun and a fake grenade strapped to his waist. Police found the stolen money after Maksimik called 911 to report his roommate’s apparent suicide in Stamford.

Maksimik appeared before a federal magistrate in Bridgeport on Tuesday to face a robbery charge. He's already accused of robbery and several other crimes in state court for the same incident.

Police say after he held up the bank, he rear-ended another car fleeing the robbery. Maksimik didn’t make it home until he got rides on a bus, in a taxi and in his sister's car.

Maksimik found his roommate dead and called 911. Police responding to the suicide saw that he matched the description of the robbery suspect and found the bank money inside a bag on Maksimik’s bed.

"Everything just came together," Darien police Capt. Fred Komm said. "It's rare that you solve a bank robbery in such a timely manner. We got lucky, and he was having a bad day."

Tom Carson, a spokesman for the US attorney's office, declined to say why federal prosecutors are bringing their own case against Maksimik. It was not clear whether state officials will drop their case because of the federal prosecution.

Maksimik is being held without bail. The federal robbery charge carries up to 20 years in prison. (info from Kansas City Star and The Associated Press)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Man told 911 his wife was biting him

A woman in Fairfield, Connecticut with marital problems desperately wanted to talk to her husband after he apparently decided to leave her. Helen Sun was arrested Tuesday after sneaking into Robert Drawbough's bedroom and handcuffing herself to him while he slept so they could talk.

His wife began biting and scratching him. Drawbough, frightened by his wife's antics, was able to pin her down and used a cellphone to call 911 and begged the dispatcher for help. (Info from CBS News)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time for a change: a report about farting, not 911

An eighth-grader in Lakeland, Florida was suspended from riding the school bus for three days after being accused of farting.

The bus driver wrote on a misbehavior form that a 15-year-old was passing gas on the bus to make the other children laugh, creating a stench so bad that it was difficult to breathe.

Polk County school officials said there's no rule against flatulence, but there are rules against causing a disturbance on the bus.

The teen said he wasn't the farter.

Whether he did it or not, he might have gotten off easy. A 13-year-old student at a Stuart, Florida school was arrested in November after authorities said he farted in class. (info from The Associated Press)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Greatest wacko calls

A call came into 911 because two couples were going to share a hotel room and there weren't enough towels.

A lady called 911 because of a fight going on in a parking lot. When asked to describe the combatants, she said: "There's one man, and he's dressed like Elvis. He's kicking another man who's laying on the ground and screaming "You ain't nothing but a hound dog."

A man called and requested police call gas stations on all exits of I-95 to find out which ones were open.

A woman called 911 to report she had seen a wild mouse in her house.

Someone called 911 to report the parrot got out of his cage and is in a tree outside.

A man broke up with his girlfriend and wanted police to go over to her house and report to him the owners of any cars, other than hers, in her driveway.

A guy called to ask if they delivered dope. When the person answering told him it was the Sheriff's Department, he hung up.

A woman called to request a police officer come to her residence to change the battery in her smoke detector because she couldn't reach it.

A person called to find out the number to the police station.

Dispatcher: 911 What is your emergency?
Caller: I heard what sounded like gunshots coming from the brown house on the corner.
Dispatcher: Do you have an address?
Caller: No, I have on a blouse and slacks, why?

Dispatcher: 911 What is your emergency?
Caller: Someone broke into my house and took a bite out of my ham and cheese sandwich.
Dispatcher: Excuse me?
Caller: I made a ham and cheese sandwich and left it on the kitchen table and when I came back from the bathroom, someone had taken a bite out of it.
Dispatcher: Was anything else taken?
Caller: No, but this has happened to me before and I'm sick and tired of it!

Caller: Yeah, I'm having trouble breathing. I'm all out of breath. Darn....I think I'm going to pass out.
Dispatcher: Sir, where are you calling from?
Caller: I'm at a pay phone. North and Foster.
Dispatcher: Sir, an ambulance is on the way. Are you an asthmatic?
Caller: No
Dispatcher: What were you doing before you started having trouble breathing?
Caller: Running from the Police.

Dispatcher: 911 What is the nature of your emergency?
Caller: I'm trying to reach nine eleven but my phone doesn't have an eleven on it.
Dispatcher: This is nine eleven.
Caller: I thought you just said it was nine-one-one
Dispatcher: Yes, ma'am nine-one-one and nine-eleven are the same thing.
Caller: Honey, I may be old, but I'm not stupid

Friday, March 20, 2009

911 employee quits after email hoax about gang crime

A 911 employee in Newton County, Georgia resigned after reportedly sending out an e-mail to friends and family members about a supposed gang initiation at Wal-Mart Wednesday evening. The e-mail created a panic throughout the community.

The e-mail warned that Newton County Police had advised dispatchers that a gang initiation would be starting in Newton and surrounding counties Wednesday night and would last 24-hours.

"Word is that those trying to get into two local gangs are to go into Wal-Mart and kill a man, woman or child and get out," the e-mail reads. It goes on to urge citizens to avoid the store for at least 24-hours, if not longer.

Police officials released a statement Wednesday afternoon after receiving and influx of calls, which read, in part, "We have been diligently investigating this particular e-mail and, as of yet, have not found it to have any validity. We have also been made aware of similar e-mails circulating in other parts of this state as well as other states. As of yet, those e-mails have also not been found to be credible. We will continue to investigate this claim to ensure the safety of our citizens. However, at this time, we find this e-mail to have no merit. As always, if a safety concern arises, we will make every effort to alert our citizens."

And although the gang initiation portion of the e-mail proved false, the claim that a 911 employee had provided the information proved to be true. According to Mike Smith, director of the Covington-Newton County 911 Center, there was a trainee at the center who received the information and chose to pass it on. The information was not given by 911 officials and passing along such information is against policy and procedures of the 911 center.

The trainee apparently sent the information to a spouse who passed the information along to a family member and the rumor spread from there.

"This employee has chosen to tender a resignation effective immediately," said Smith. "If such information were received by us and deemed a credible threat then an official notification would be sent to the public as well as other public safety agencies." (info from The Covington News)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Delayed 911 rsponse may have caused death

Police in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada admitted yesterday their slow response to a 911 call on a cold December night may have cost Jonathan Guitard his life.

"We failed to provide adequate attention and care to Mr. Guitard, and in this case it was life-saving aid," police chief Jamie Graham said in a media briefing yesterday. "Our lack of immediate attention to him may have contributed to his death."

Guitard died Dec. 13, more than four hours after a security guard found him unconscious.

Graham said the initial call came in at 4 a.m., but the civilian complaint-taker on duty at the time asked few questions and entered the call in the detachment's priority "queue" as an "unwanted" person. A designation of "man down" dispatcher jargon for an urgent medical emergency would have prompted an immediate response, he said.

"Normally a call like that would be treated as a high priority," Graham said.

A supervisor went to the reported location around 5 a.m., but despite coming within "50 feet" of the location, was unable to find Guitard and returned to the station. Chief Graham said the initial search was hampered by the complaint-taker's sketchy information.

The security guard called police again when he came across Guitard around 6:30 a.m. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Graham said yesterday's statement was prompted by the findings of an autopsy report on Mr. Guitard's death that was released last Thursday. Temperatures in Victoria were well below freezing on the night in question. The department has launched an internal investigation to determine whether any criminal or procedural negligence contributed to Guitard's death.

Chief Graham said he has called Guitard's mother to offer the department's apologies and sympathies. A member of the police department was also sent to Montreal to speak with her personally. (info from the Globe and Mail)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It was a gas lamp, not a burning building

In New Orleans, a woman called 911 to report flames in the apartment building across the street.

The emergency responders saw no fire, heard no alarm, found no panicky people in the street, nothing wrong inside the building.

The caller came outside from the hotel across the street and pointed to the 100-year-old gas lamps, which still burn on both sides of the front entrance.

"That can't be safe, will you put it out?," she asked.

A fireman responded, "No ma'am that's supposed to do that." (info from yourhappymedic.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Teen urged father to kill burglar while talking to 911

Early yesterday morning in Georgetown, Kentucky a father and his 16-year old son held a man at gunpoint after he kicked in the door of their town home

The teen called 911. "Oh my God, shoot, shoot him dad," he said while on the phone.

For four minutes, they held two guns on 18-year old Josh Slone, a neighbor.

"He kicked in the back door and now we have 'em at gunpoint," the son said. The father said, "If you move one foot, I will kill you at the count of three."

Police arrived and arrested Slone. He was charged with burglary and criminal mischief.

Now for the really strange part. About two hours later, there was another sound at the door. It was Slone's cousin, Thomas trying to kick in the door.

The father and son grabbed their guns again, and police arrived and arrested him on the front porch.

Police aren't sure why they picked the house, but believe they were so drunk, they didn't know where they were. Josh Slone lives a few houses down from the one he is accused of breaking into. (info from WKYT.com

Monday, March 16, 2009

Woman called 911 to confess prostitution

Paul Manning, a 911 dispatcher at the Regional Public Safety Communications Center in Ashland, Kentucky got a call from a woman whom he initially thought had mistaken him for a priest.

“She wanted to confess that she’d been prostituting herself for drug money,” he said.

Apparently, Manning said, she confessed because a friend was threatening to turn her in “and she wanted to know if she could get in trouble for that.” (info from The Daily Independent)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Woman told 911 she killed her former husband

A woman called 911 in Dallas about 4:15 a.m. Monday and reported that she'd killed her ex-husband in San Antonio Sunday night. She also said she'd just taken a handful of pills. She was taken to a hospital and her three children are in the custody of Child Protective Services. (info from The Houston Chronicle)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Woman was bored, so she called 911

Police said a woman in Slidell, Louisiana made two false calls to 911 from an out-of-service cellphone — and told investigators she did it because she was bored. They booked her on Monday for false report of a fire and false report of a crime. They also booked her on two outstanding warrants for violating probation.

Police Chief Freddy Drennan said the two calls gave different addresses in the same area. Police answered a burglary call and police and firefighters answered the fire call.

Officers questioned a woman in a nearby yard. She denied making the calls at first, then admitted making them out of boredom. (info from The Associated Press)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

911 caller had gun shot wound, not heart attack

A man in Morgan County, Indiana died Monday after complaining of chest pain, but he didn't realize that he had been shot.

The man's wife called 911. When emergency personnel arrived at their home, they realized the man had a gunshot wound. He died on the way to the hospital.

Investigators said the man was standing in his bedroom when he started feeling chest pain. A bullet hole was found in the side of the house.

Neighbors said they often hear gunshots from the nearby woods. Police said they don't know where the bullet came from or who fired it. (info from WLKY)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An emergency emergency. For second time in two weeks, 911 wires cut in Arkansas

Construction of a parking lot near the Saline County 911 Building in Benton, Arkansas made it necessary to re-route calls Monday after workmen accidentally cut the communication lines.

All emergency calls were patched through, so there was no danger in someone not getting emergency services.

A similar incident occurred last week and the same emergency procedure was used then to temporarily correct the situation. (info from The Courier)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Multimom says hormones made her freak out in 911 call. Second publicist quits.

Mother-of-14 Nadya Suleman says a hormonal surge drove her to make a wacky 911 call when one of her children wandered off last year.

Suleman says she was right to call 911 when her 5-year-old son went missing, but she overreacted because she was pregnant with her octuplets and her hormones were out of control.

In the Oct. 27 call Suleman repeatedly told an emergency dispatcher she was going crazy and she was going to kill herself. The boy returned unharmed.

Suleman, an unemployed single mother, has come under scrutiny since giving birth to octuplets Jan. 26 because she already had six other children, ages 2 to 7.

For the second time, Suleman is without a publicist.

Victor Munoz said that he quit as Suleman's publicity person. "This woman is nuts. It just got to be too much," he said. "It's pretty much a free for all over there right now. They are freaking out right now. "Nadya got real greedy." he added.

Suleman's first publicist, Joann Killeen, stepped down after her firm received over 100 graphic e-mail and voicemail threats. (info from Fox News and US magazine)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Intruder wandered around house as 911 calls were unanswered

An elderly woman in Parker County, Texas repeatedly called 911 and got no answer while an intruder roamed around her home.

Last month, Laverne Hokett awoke to the sound of a man breaking down her back door. "It's a thousand wonders I haven't had a heart attack," she said. "I was so afraid."

After dialing 911 several times with no answer as she cowered in her bedroom, Hokett called her daughter, Deborah Turpin, who lives nearby and then tried 911 again. By this time the man inside her home was screaming.

As Turpin and her husband headed to her mother's home, Hokett sat alone in her dark room and decided to call her neighbor. "He couldn't find the bullets to the gun," she said of her neighbor.

Turpin and her husband eventually made it to Hokett's home and managed to corner the intruder at gunpoint. They then tried to call 911 again, and then again.

"I'm very frustrated," Turpin said. "I'm very angry." As the situation hurtled towards a crisis point, the phone rang.

"This is Parker County 911," a dispatcher said. "Your phone is dialing 911, is there an emergency?"

"Someone's broken into my mother's home," Turpin replied. "I'm sitting here with a gun on him and if he doesn't behave I'm going to kill him ... We've both got guns on him. He's sitting here crying and bawling."

Deputies arrived 13 minutes later and arrested the intruder.

Captain Mike Morgan, a spokesman for the Parker County Sheriff's Office, said he understands the family's frustration, but records showed 911 dispatchers did answer the calls. However, by the time they answered, the callers had already hung up. Morgan said cellphone calls can take up to 30 seconds to actually connect in the dispatch center.

Hokett said she hopes she never needs 911 again. But just in case, she said her daughter bought her a shotgun that she keeps near her bed as she sleeps. (info from WFAA TV)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Woman called 911 when Mickey Dee ran out of McNuggets

In the popular lexicon, the phrase "A few McNuggets short of a Happy Meal" has joined "A few ants short of a picnic," "a few beers short of a six-pack," and "a few cards short of a full deck" to imply that someone may not have normal brain power.

There is new proof of the aptness of the McNuggets analogy.

When she was told that McDonald's was out of Chicken McNuggets after paying for a 10-piece order, a woman in Fort Pierce, Florida called 911.


"This is an emergency, If I would have known they didn't have McNuggets, I wouldn't have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don't want one," Latreasa Goodman later told police. "This is an emergency."

The McNugget incident ended with Goodman getting a notice to appear on a misuse of 911 charge.

Goodman told investigators she tried to get a refund for the 10-piece McNuggets, but the cashier told her all sales are final.

"I called 911 because I couldn't get a refund, and I wanted my McNuggets," Goodman told police. The cashier told police she offered Goodman a larger portion of food for the same price to make up for it, but said Goodman got "irate." Goodman reportedly yelled, "I don't want a McDouble and small fry," the cashier told investigators.

911 dispatchers said Goodman called them three times and on each occasion she was told an officer was en route. "Goodman maintained the attitude 'this is an emergency, my McNuggets are an emergency,'" the report states.

Although Goodman did go a bit to ofar in calling 911, she did have a legitimate beef over her intended chicken purchase.

McDonald's is now trying to make nice with her.

Carlos Solorzano, Florida Region Operations Manager, said that "Satisfying each and every customer that visits our restaurants is very important to us. Regarding this isolated incident, we apologize for the inconvenience caused. In the event that we are unable to fill an order, a customer should be offered the choice of a full refund or alternative menu items. We regret that in this instance, that wasn't the case. We want to correct our mistake. We will be sending the customer her refund, along with an Arch card for a complimentary meal on us. We never want to disappoint a McNuggets fan or any McDonald's customer. Customer satisfaction is our top priority."

HEAR THE CALL (info from SunSentinel.com)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Michigan 911 defeats Michigan 311

For six months members of the Michigan Emergency Telephone Service Committee and state 911 Committee have argued against their 311 number, which was established in2003. This week they ruled that dispatch centers must discontinue using it.

The 311 number was intended to direct non-emergency calls -- barking dog complaints, questions about road closures and the like -- away from 911 operators. However, the number "really never caught on and never got to the popularity level we thought it would," said Tom McIntyre, Saginaw County 911 Communications Center Authority director. Also, neither cellphones nor those using VoIP would connect to the number.

"We got about 1,000 calls a month (on 311)," McIntyre said. About 30,000 calls come into 911 each month. "People will just have to call 911," McIntyre said. "If they want, they can always use our alternative, seven-digit non-emergency number, 797-4580." (info from The Saginaw News)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Car thief was busted after bragging to 911

A man in Duluth, Minnesota was arrested for stealing a car and repeatedly calling 911 to brag to police that they would not catch him.

Antonio Robledo was suspected of stealing gas from a gas station and fleeing in a stolen car and was captured after an hours-long search early Saturday.

“The suspect apparently was unaware of the tenacity of the police officers involved as they braved frigid temperatures tracking the suspect in the snow, on foot and with a police dog,” a Duluth Police Department news release said. The low temperature in the area reached 18 below zero.

Robledo was booked on charges of gas theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary, tampering with a motor vehicle, trespassing and assaulting a police officer.

Duluth police gave the following account of this weekend’s events: On Friday evening, police responded to a report of a gas theft at the Holiday station on 27th Avenue West. Station employees gave police a license plate number and a description of the vehicle, which turned out to have been stolen from the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood.

About 2 a.m. Saturday, a Duluth officer spotted the vehicle — a black 2000 Audi — near Lake Avenue and Superior Street. The officer stopped the vehicle near the on-ramp to northbound Interstate 35, but then the driver sped off, hitting a guardrail while entering the on-ramp and turning off the Audi’s lights.

Officers searched for the vehicle, and located it abandoned in a yard. Soon after, the suspect began calling 911 from a cellphone, telling dispatchers that he was “smarter than the police” and would not be captured.

About 4:30 a.m., a homeowner called 911 to report a prowler had entered their garage. Police were conducting their search nearby and within minutes, officers located Robledo in a shed in a yard. Robledo resisted arrest and assaulted two officers, according to police, though “neither sustained significant injury.”

Robledo’s criminal history includes convictions for theft of a motor vehicle and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle. He has also been charged with financial transaction card fraud and with fifth-degree assault. Robledo was arrested in October 2007 in connection with the string of home burglaries just after crashing a stolen black Audi. (info from The Duluth News Tribune)