911 Director: No discipline for dispatch mistakes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

911 Director: No discipline for dispatch mistakes before officer-involved shooting

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County 911 Center John Dejung tells 27 News there's no discipline for two, veteran staff members, after their miscommunication led police officers to believe they were responding to a potential homicide attempt, instead of a potential suicide attempt, before officers shot and killed an armed man.

Dejung says the victim's wife called 911 Aug. 17 and spent six-and-a-half minutes on the phone with a Center call taker, relating her husband had cut himself with a knife. Dejung tells 27 News the call-taker entered the information into Center computers.

"When the dispatcher saw those remarks in the computer-aided dispatch system, he interpreted those comments, as what is more common, a domestic situation," Dejung tells 27 News. "So he made an assumption, error, that the cut was to the caller, the wife."

Authorities say responding officers fatally shot knife-wielding 59-year old Charles Carll outside his Hammersley Road home after Carll ignored police commands, and could not be subdued by a taser.

Dejung tells 27 News the caller's description of a weapon guided the dispatch, and the number of officers sent to the scene.

"The protocols and the dispatch instructions are written such that when a weapon is involved, it's a potential danger to the responders whether it's a suicide, homicide, or just someone holding on to a weapon. The response is the same, the dispatched response," Dejung tells 27 News.

Dejung says no discipline - nor a pre-discipline coaching note - was assigned to either the dispatcher or call-taker involved in the Aug. 17 dispatch. Officials say the call-taker has been on staff five years, the dispatcher seven years.

"This is one of those perfect storms, when the particular comments that were written down were open to interpretation," Dejung tells 27 News.

Dejung says he has no intention to change procedures on entering 911 call information into computers based on this one incident.

Dejung says the use of a call-taker to handle 911 calls, and a separate dispatcher to disseminate information to responding officers, is the standard in the emergency communications field. Dejung tells 27 News while there's always the possibility of information being relayed incorrectly, it's a rare occurrence, and the separate roles allow for more attention to both callers, and the police dispatch.

Police officials have refused to allow the release to 27 News of the audio of the Aug. 17 911 call, citing a continuing police investigation into the shooting. Madison Police Chief Noble Wray has said it appears the officers were justified in using deadly force, although the attorney for Carll's family, Jeff Scott Olson, says Carll's wife was an eyewitness and disputes the police version of events. 

 

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