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View Full Version : 911 Operator Orders Man to Return to Scene of Shooting, Man Killed


Bartholomew Roberts
April 3, 2012, 10:54 AM
CBS News is reporting that some men in Denver called 911 to report being threatened at gunpoint by a group of men early Sunday morning (aka Saturday night). The 911 dispatcher for some reason ordered the men to return to the scene of the shooting. One of the victims said "“I told them I couldn’t do that because those people might still be there and they had a gun and I didn’t want to go there. They told me, ‘Well if you don’t go there we can’t come to your location and you can’t file a police report.’ “

Despite his good common sense objection, the victim eventually complied with the 911 operator's request resulting in his brother being shot and killed by the same suspects. The police arrived approximately 45 seconds after the brother expired from his wounds.

Source: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/04/02/denver-911-operators-decision-called-into-question-after-murder/

I thought this was a worthwhile discussion because in several threads we've seen the 911 operator tell the victim to do certain things or even give orders to the victim. Unfortunately as this story shows, the 911 operator may not be better equipped to make that decision than you are. I think it is a valuable reminder that it is YOUR life on the line, and not the dispatcher's and that any advice from the dispatcher should be treated accordingly.

Marty Hayes
April 3, 2012, 11:06 AM
Dispatchers are NOT sworn police officers, and thus, you have NO necessity to follow their directives. In most states, there is a misdemeanor statute called "obstructing" where if you disobey a direct command from a law enforcement officer, you can be arrested because by your disobedience, you are obstructing a police investigation. This is indeed an interesting post, BR.

kinggabby
April 3, 2012, 11:10 AM
I smell a huge lawsuit brewing on a big burner.

kraigwy
April 3, 2012, 11:52 AM
you have NO necessity to follow their directives. In most states, there is a misdemeanor statute called "obstructing" where if you disobey a direct command from a law enforcement officer, you can be arrested because by your disobedience, you are obstructing a police investigation.

There is no law anywhere requiring you to return to a dangerous situation. You can return after the police secure the scene, but no one, dispatchers, cops, Pope, or anyone else can require you to return until the scene is secure.

TMD
April 3, 2012, 12:08 PM
FWIW most dispatchers make at or slightly above minimum wage

Edward429451
April 3, 2012, 12:27 PM
Even bonafide LEOs can not rightfully order you into a dangerous situation. This is common sense talking and not statute. It is usually a bad decision to base your behavior and actions on an authority figure, just because he's an authority figure. Don't be afraid to question when it's your butt on the line.

It sounds like she ordered him back to the scene for the convenience of the cops. I'd also bet money that nothing happens to the dispatcher. They take care of their own. Realistically, perhaps it wasn't her fault. Life on Earth is fluid and dynamic. A decision was made to follow her instructions without question, and then they walked back to the hot zone, which they knew to be hot. They were in a better position to make the call than the dispatcher lady.

Perhaps the real danger lies in being obsequious to Law Enforcement. This is why the man is dead. Too much respect for the cops coupled with too little common sense. A tragedy of the highest order.

jmr40
April 3, 2012, 12:47 PM
Several years ago someone threw a rock through the windshield of our Jeep as my wife was driving home at night. She kept moving and came home. We called 911 to report the incident. Since it happened inside the city limits we were told we could either meet an officer at the scene, or a nearby location to get the info. Since we live in the county, they would not send an officer to my home.

I told the 911 operator I'd meet an officer at a grocery store about a block from the location, but as I got close I saw quite a few partrol cars and other cars at the place where my wife said it happened. They had a 9 year old kid they were questioning, along with 4-5 other cars with broken windshields. got a police report and filed an insurance cliam.

Aguila Blanca
April 3, 2012, 01:10 PM
Dispatchers are NOT sworn police officers, and thus, you have NO necessity to follow their directives.
Mr. Hayes, I know you are a well-respected attorney, but this statement is a generalization and, as such, it may or may not be correct.

In fact, I am currently taking a citizens police academy in the town adjacent to my town of residence. My home town has its own dispatch center, manned by civilians. The town giving the citizens academy has its own dispatch center, and it is manned by uniformed, sworn officers. I asked the chief about that on the first night of the course, and he basically said, "We do it that way because I'm the chief and that's the way I think it works best."

Whether or not someone on the victim end of a 9-1-1 call is legally required to follow the dispatcher's instructions is another question. I doubt most callers would know the dispatcher is a sworn officer, especially if the caller/victim is from a place where the dispatchers are not cops.

There is NO one-size-fits-all in this world.

farmerboy
April 3, 2012, 02:37 PM
Yep, no one could or should place someone else in danger. And it is too little common sense to do that also.

aarondhgraham
April 3, 2012, 04:37 PM
I can tell you that they have wide latitude in their directions to 911 callers,,,
But they can never refuse (legally anyways) one request.

If you are ever in a 911 situation and don't agree with their directions,,,
Ask (demand if necessary) to speak to a Watch Commander,,,
They know that if they refuse they are being recorded.

Now having said that,,,
Their job is definitely not an easy one,,,
And there are jerks on the 911 line like in any other field,,,
But for the most part the dispatchers I met were dedicated professionals.

But everyone should have the opportunity to sit in on a shift,,,
Just to experience first-hand the B-S they receive,,,
It's a sobering experience I will tell you.

Hello TMD,,,
FWIW most dispatchers make at or slightly above minimum wage

My wife and all of her colleagues at three different PD's,,,
Earned salaries that were considerably higher than minimum wage.

Aarond

.

old bear
April 3, 2012, 04:44 PM
TMD

FWIW most dispatchers make at or slightly above minimum wage


Most police dispatchers make well above minimum wage. Average starting wage is generally $40,000.00 annually.

Spats McGee
April 3, 2012, 04:48 PM
With respect to these:
I smell a huge lawsuit brewing on a big burner.
. . . .It sounds like she ordered him back to the scene for the convenience of the cops. I'd also bet money that nothing happens to the dispatcher. They take care of their own. . . .
Like kinggabby, I think that a lawsuit's a-coming. The family and estate may or may not win, but some attorney will likely take the case on contingency, even if only to shake a settlement out.

I partially agree and partially disagree with Edward429451. It certainly does sound like the dispatcher ordered the victim back to the scene for the convenience of the responding police. I'll have to be on the other side of the bet as to whether anything happens to the dispatcher, though, and here's why:
The 911 communications department held a news conference Monday afternoon. Denver 911 Director Carl Simpson said the operator in the case did not follow the policies and procedures while he was on the 911 call; specifically instructing the men to return to Denver in order to file a police report.

Simpson wouldn’t go in to the specifics of the call but says it’s clear that policies were not followed.
Liability will not attach to a city unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the city had a policy, practice or custom which caused a deprivation of the plaintiff's rights. Throwing the dispatcher (or other city employee) under the bus as having failed to follow procedures is one way to protect the city from liability.

Deaf Smith
April 3, 2012, 06:37 PM
Ever notice EMT ambulances and firefighters won't go to a crime scene till police secure it?

So why should you?

Deaf

chadio
April 3, 2012, 07:07 PM
Since when do salaries have anything to do with common sense and rational thinking?

ltc444
April 3, 2012, 08:05 PM
It sounds to me like one of two issues. The dispatcher has a terminal case of dumbass or the Denver PD has a major hole in its training program. Actually, I think both are the case.

My wife was a dispatcher in a small rural Arkansas town, her training was minimunal but included in the list of top ten DO NOTs was do not place anyone in jeporady.

Patriot86
April 4, 2012, 07:30 AM
Wow when did the Denver PD start outsourcing to the TSA for 911 dispatchers?

Usually dispatches go out of their way not to order people into dangerous situations. As a matter of fact when you hear recordings of most dispatchers they try to get you to stay out of dangerous situations or move to safer areas.
This sounds like a serious lapse of judgment on the part of the dispatcher, but also the guy who went back to the scene. The director of the FBI himself could order me to walk off a cliff but that doesn't mean I would do it. Nor would I return, unarmed, to the scene where I had just been threatened by armed individuals without the police presence. This is as moronic as a dispatcher telling a homeowner to go and "check" his own burglarized house to see if the bad guy is still there.

Lawsuit is round the corner and rightfully so.


Also, on a sad note
So far there are no suspects in the shooting

Spats McGee
April 4, 2012, 08:24 AM
From a Tactics and Training perspective, I believe the lesson here is this: If a dispatcher, or anyone else, directs you to return to a locale where armed men have already threatened you once, the correct response is, "No."

BlueTrain
April 4, 2012, 08:44 AM
My suggestion to everyone is to immediately make a post in this forum. I'm sure you'd get several fast replies. They won't all say the same thing but at least you'd have a choice.

BikerRN
April 4, 2012, 09:34 AM
Ever notice EMT ambulances and firefighters won't go to a crime scene till police secure it?

So why should you?

Deaf

I'm chuckling at the irony. :)

Slamfire
April 4, 2012, 09:36 AM
It is usually a bad decision to base your behavior and actions on an authority figure, just because he's an authority figure. Don't be afraid to question when it's your butt on the line.


Darn straight, challenge authority. Who is the bigger fool? The living fool who gave the order or the dead fool who followed it?

FireForged
April 4, 2012, 09:46 AM
All I can say is that I alone have the greatest responsibility to keep myself out of harms way and I alone will decide what is acceptable safety and what isnt.

Marty Hayes
April 4, 2012, 10:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty Hayes
Dispatchers are NOT sworn police officers, and thus, you have NO necessity to follow their directives.

Mr. Hayes, I know you are a well-respected attorney, but this statement is a generalization and, as such, it may or may not be correct.

In fact, I am currently taking a citizens police academy in the town adjacent to my town of residence. My home town has its own dispatch center, manned by civilians. The town giving the citizens academy has its own dispatch center, and it is manned by uniformed, sworn officers. I asked the chief about that on the first night of the course, and he basically said, "We do it that way because I'm the chief and that's the way I think it works best."

Whether or not someone on the victim end of a 9-1-1 call is legally required to follow the dispatcher's instructions is another question. I doubt most callers would know the dispatcher is a sworn officer, especially if the caller/victim is from a place where the dispatchers are not cops.

There is NO one-size-fits-all in this world.

You are correct, I stand corrected. I should have said the vast majority of dispatchers are not sworn officers.

OuTcAsT
April 4, 2012, 12:22 PM
Pay grade, and level of training aside. Nobody can determine if a situation is safe for me to return to better than me. I'll simply sit and wait for LE to secure the scene before I return to give my side of the story.

cmietzner
April 4, 2012, 02:11 PM
What is missing from this story is that the shooters were driving around all over the place randomly shooting. I live off 5th and Sheridan and I called the police at about 330am to report shots fired in front of my house. I then listened to my police scanner and heard 2 more calls of shots fired withing all of about a mile of my house. Then the shooting that killed the kid and one last time when they dumped the jeep.

They all more than enough information to make a logical decision to tell the victims to get to a safe place.

Jeff22
April 5, 2012, 03:58 AM
I hate it when stuff like this happens.

As a public safety employee for 32+ years I can't stand it when somebody who should know better does something stupid, or in this case tells somebody else to do something stupid, and something bad happens as a result . . .

I'm very critical of George Zimmerman in that shooting in Florida for disregarding the dispatcher's suggestion to stop following anybody and wait for the arrival of the police. That was correct advice.

Then this goof in Denver tells somebody to go back to the scene of an incident, to put themselves in danger without reason, and somebody gets shot as a result . . . incredible

rjlevesquejr
April 5, 2012, 04:50 AM
First of all, YES Zimmerman screwed up...but, as a Floridian for about 7 or so years now please let me explain something to everyone else who doesn't live here. (Especially Orlando, Tampa, or Miami) Road rage is worse here than I have ever seen anywhere in my entire life, and I have been all over the USA. So, with that in mind. I have been harassed by police here over and over, for nothing. My first year here, I was pestered by police, for no reason at all, more than I ever was my entire life where I was born and raised, and I am age 45. One evening I had a driver in a huge truck punch the gas when the light turned green and slam right into my back end (PT Cruiser) shooting me into the intersection. Then he squealed tires backwards (as I think holy crap he's high and going to hit me again) then speeds off to the nearest exit ramp. When the police arrive (Orlando City Police) the officer tells me they can do nothing because I had no tag, even with an excellent description of the truck and that (get this) next time I should chase after whomever hit me and call it in while following them. Sounds like the same kind of idiot advice this poor dead man got to me!

The police need to be PROPERLY trained to handle ANY and ALL situations CORRECTLY. That having been said, doesn't it make sense 911 operators should too? Nurses nearly know as much if not more than the doctors, I think so should 911 operators. Oh and BRAVO! to those 911 operators who do their job well and truly care about helping those in need.

Our police are getting worse and worse people to deal with because the general populous is getting more and more stressed thus creating even more troublesome criminals than before. BUT!!!! This is NO excuse for professionals to start acting out, losing control, bullying, etc. THEY MUST REMAIN PROFESSIONAL AT ALL COSTS! If you can't, cya, there are plenty of others to do that job. Train our police better, teach them they aren't GOD because they wear a badge, their true job is to SERVE and PROTECT citizens...not POLICE them like everyone is a criminal and we all live in one big jail!

And for GOODNESS SAKES TRAIN our 911 Operators properly, screen them MUCH better, and watch them CLOSELY!

There is so very little common sense in the world it truly scares the living hell out of me...

dieselbeef
April 5, 2012, 08:15 AM
he knew better and still went back...dummy...:eek:

Webleymkv
April 5, 2012, 09:04 AM
I can't help but think that it would have been safer and smarter for all involved if the dispatcher had simply directed the victim to the nearest police station at which point he could accompany the officer(s) back to the scene.

Hook686
April 6, 2012, 05:18 PM
Everyone seems to be down on the 911 operator. I read the article and it stated,

The victims called 911 after being threatened at gunpoint by a group of men at 10th and Sheridan early Sunday morning. They drove into Wheat Ridge but the dispatcher told them to return to Denver, and that’s when the suspects fired on their car killing one man.

It seems they left the Denver PD jurisdiction by going to Wheat Ridge. To file a report with the Denver PD, they needed to return to Denver. Denver is a big city. These guys could have returned to any spot they felt safe in Denver and called in to file a complaint. No one, as I read it, told them to go to 10th and Sheridan.

Why is everyone accusing the Dispacher of wrong doing and suggesting a big law suit ?

bds32
April 8, 2012, 02:50 PM
All I can say is that I alone have the greatest responsibility to keep myself out of harms way and I alone will decide what is acceptable safety and what isnt.

Very well said. This is the key to enhancing survival. When you accept full responsibility for your own basic security, I think you tend to make wiser decisions.

Nnobby45
April 10, 2012, 11:59 PM
.....In fact, I am currently taking a citizens police academy in the town adjacent to my town of residence. My home town has its own dispatch center, manned by civilians. The town giving the citizens academy has its own dispatch center, and it is manned by uniformed, sworn officers. I asked the chief about that on the first night of the course, and he basically said, "We do it that way because I'm the chief and that's the way I think it works best."


How do dispatch officers fullfill the requirment to properly ID themselves? As for any officer ordering you back into a situation that is so dangerous you had to call the police in the first place, the legal implications are interesting if you refuse. You aren't refusing to meet with the officers and co-operate by telling where you are at a safer location.

They couldn't order medics or firemen into a situation not first secured by police---just witnesses, I guess.:rolleyes:

bikerbill
April 12, 2012, 09:29 AM
This is a sad story, but it seems to me these guys made a bad decision -- to listen against their better judgement to the 911 operator -- and they paid a heavy price ... at the end of the day, like any LEO, our job is to go home safe to our families, and that requires making sound choices and listening to our gut ...

Gbro
April 14, 2012, 08:13 PM
Like Hook said,
The Complaintants were told to return to Denver. None were aware of the distructive mission these goblins were on.
I hope the dispatcher is pull from under the bus before it moves, and the goblins are found and locked up with there own kind.

ClydeFrog
April 19, 2012, 03:13 AM
There are some posts here that I agree & disagree with.
I agree that as in my area, many towns & communities use 911 call centers or dispatchers who are NOT sworn LE officers(have no arrest authority/police powers). The dispatch or call center workers are considered non-sworn personnel. You should be respectful, avoid slang or profanity and remain calm when speaking to 911 personnel BUT you do not have to comply with everything they may say to you.
You are the one in the life threatening event not the 911 dispatchers. It's your right to speak to uniformed LE officers or deputies when they arrive on scene.
I'd add that you should learn your area's patrol zone or district. To know the main office/non emergency line can help too.
The 911 lines are recorded too so you can put cell phones on speaker & record all the voices or subjects. I've done that a few times doing security work.
In all honesty, some LE agencies or public safety offices train the 911 dispatch personnel better than others but many professions can say the same.
My main point is not be swayed or intimidated by responding LE officers or a 911 call center dispatcher in a critical event. I had a recent event with my local PD where my recorded statements & actions helped resolved the whole dispute.

ClydeFrog

langenc
April 27, 2012, 04:48 PM
Some dispatcher can give all the directions they want to. They are not at the scene and have no idea as to the safety at or near the scene of any altercation they get a call about. Leo or not-why follow directions that look dangerous to you-at or near the scene??