Mar 192010

#006699; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none;" title="Permanent Link to Deputy Not Dispatched, 4 Deaths Follow" href="" rel="bookmark">Deputy Not Dispatched, 4 Deaths Follow

A decision by a San Jacinto County (Tex.) sheriff’s captain not send deputies in response to several calls about a deranged man turned deadly—the man shot and killed three relatives and then himself. The incident spotlights how an unnamed sheriff’s dispatcher was put in the middle of calls from people who felt they were in danger and who wanted help for Oliver Bills, and a supervisor who told the dispatcher, “Ohh, no! We don’t want to do that!” Bills may have had psychiatric problems last November, and his mother called on a non-emergency line to report him behaving erratically. The sheriff’s dispatcher said he would send a deputy, but first consulted with Capt. Carl Jones about a “welfare check.” But upon hearing that suggestion, Jones emphatically said, “No!” and explained to the dispatcher, “All you going to do is wind up creating an issue…that may hurt us in the long run.” So instead, the dispatcher told subsequent callers to ask a judge after the weekend for a mental health warrant for Bills. A deputy wasn’t dispatched until seven hours later, despite several calls from Bills’ mother and others. The deputy found the four bodies. Jones later told reporters that the four on-duty deputies were too busy to respond to the initial calls, but dispatch logs contradict that claim. Sheriff James Walters said no one has been disciplined, and defended the response. He noted that dispatchers called the family several times to check on their welfare. Read the entire storyhere, and a follow-up story about the sheriff’s call for more training.

     The problem with this situation is that the dispatcher will most likely get disciplined, if not terminated. She was simply following the orders of a supervisor and the outcome of the situation is bad. I can foresee that the investigation will lead to someone saying the dispatcher should have disobeyed the supervisor’s order and sent a deputy any way. In hind sight, that’s the easy answer. But let’s say the dispatcher disobeyed the order and sent a deputy, surely the outcome of this situation would have been different – maybe no deaths, maybe the deputy would have had to use excessive or even deadly force against the suspect. The dispatcher would most likely be in trouble for disobeying the order to NOT send. Either way, I can almost guarantee that the dispatcher will be disciplined and possibly terminated.
     Is this fair? The dispatcher was put in a no-win situation. Damned if you, damned if you don’t. I feel bad for that dispatcher. And to top it all off, I’m positive the dispatcher is feeling a great deal of remorse, guilt, and sadness because of what the outcome was. The dispatcher is carrying around the burden of these 4 deaths…..

  •  March 19, 2010
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  •   Just LIfe
Being an adult is like looking both ways before you cross the street and then getting hit by an airplane.

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