Arlington PD Dispatcher Mishandled Calls For Help For Slain Officer
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Arlington police say they’ve finished the investigation into the fatal shooting of a rookie officer who had responded to a domestic violence call.
Officer Jillian Michelle Smith was shot and killed late last year while trying to protect an 11-year-old girl from her mother’s ex-boyfriend, who also killed the mother and then himself.
During a press conference Wednesday Arlington police said an internal investigation revealed dispatch did not handle the situation properly.
It was determined there were failures of performance on the part of the primary dispatcher, Joan Ware, and 911 operator Martha Kimball who had received the report that Officer Smith had been shot.
Dispatcher Ware has been terminated. Kimball, the 911 operator, resigned.
“It was a very serious issue. It put the officers at risk. Dispatch operation is a critical operation,” said Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson. “It is critical to officer safety… and policy and procedure must be followed if not there is potential of putting officers at risk.”
The missteps by the dispatcher and operator apparently had a negative impact on responding officers’ ability to determine what happened at the scene. Officers also had problems locating witnesses because of the lack of information provided by radio dispatch.
The investigation revealed that critical information was not read over the radio, to responding officers, that an officer had been shot.
After Smith’s death in late December, Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman said the officer had gone to the apartment alone because it was a low-priority 911 call. The woman was reporting that her ex-boyfriend assaulted her earlier that day and left.
Bowman said current policies were followed, but the department would review how officers respond to calls.
A dispatch manager working group has since been established to review all related policy and procedures to enhance the safety of all emergency responders.
For time being, it is a matter of policy that two police officers respond to all domestic violence calls.
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