911 Dispatcher Accused of Negligence Following Robbery Report

Joseph O'Neill

Written by Joseph O'Neill

- Updated on November 20, 2017

This case involves an individual who called 911 to report a break-in at his neighbor’s apartment. He informed the dispatcher he would wait outside of the apartment building until police arrived, so that he could guide officers to the correct floor and apartment unit when they arrived at the scene. However, the dispatcher instructed officers to call the individual who made the report before moving to the scene, instead of indicating that a crime was in progress. In the time it took for the police to respond to the call, the individual was stabbed by the perpetrators when they attempted to flee the building. It was claimed that the dispatcher failed to follow proper protocol in reporting the incident to responding officers.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

1. Please describe your experience as a 911 call dispatcher. 2. What is the correct protocol when a robbery in progress is reported?

Expert Witness Response E-127827

inline imageI began my career as 911 dispatcher in 1996, was later promoted to a Senior Dispatcher and in 2007 was appointed the E911 Coordinator/Director of my county's 911 Center. I chair a regional 911 communications consortium and have attended hundreds of conferences and continuing education seminars. The correct protocol when a robbery is in progress is determined by the 911 call centers policy and procedure manual. The goal should be to carefully document all details of the call within the CAD system or call record, and dispatch the closest appropriate law enforcement agency(s) to the incident. In the case of a burglary in progress, as minimum two (2) police units should be sent for backup purposes. In the case above, the dispatcher should have narrated the correct time once he/she discovered the error during the call. However, a CAD system and recording system should independently time stamp logs and recordings therefore determining the correct timeline should be achievable. I have reviewed dozens of incidents as we prepare the documents and recordings for our DA's office providing timeline and department protocol. This includes calls for law enforcement, fire incidents and investigations, and emergency medical calls.

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