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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.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


One Comment

  1. Michael D says:

    How about not just two offices must respond to domestic disputes, but that one of them mustbe male?! Very few women are fit to enter into any job that requires aggressive response against assailants. A few are, but not many.
    I’ve been a Marine and cop both. In neither field did the majority of women ever reach the lower thresholds expected of male officers…yet they are paid the same. Most cops know this – as soldiers and Marines – but won’t admit it because they’ve been brainwashed and experience has not taught them otherwise ( as of yet) or they don’t want to become atarget for the PC crowd.

    1. les says:

      i can’t wait to see the feedback on this.

  2. Citizen says:

    Looks like the department should have been terminated not the dispatcher…. The report said that policy WAS followed. Policy is define by department not dispatch so if the POLICY reads one officer to respond to a domestic which many other cities define policy as needing at least 2 officers then the writers of the POLICE are at FAULT not the dispatcher. Now the actions of the dispatcher were not discussed in detail so what the dispatcher did or did not do should be made public record.

    The loss of a LIFE is sad but the Scape Goat should not have been made the ones that wrote this flimsy policy should have been held accountable.

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