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Old April 3, 2012, 10:54 AM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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911 Operator Orders Man to Return to Scene of Shooting, Man Killed

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/2012/04/0...-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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 11:06 AM   #2
Marty Hayes
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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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 11:10 AM   #3
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I smell a huge lawsuit brewing on a big burner.
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Old April 3, 2012, 11:52 AM   #4
kraigwy
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Quote:
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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 12:08 PM   #5
TMD
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FWIW most dispatchers make at or slightly above minimum wage
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Old April 3, 2012, 12:27 PM   #6
Edward429451
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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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 12:47 PM   #7
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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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 01:10 PM   #8
Aguila Blanca
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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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 02:37 PM   #9
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Yep, no one could or should place someone else in danger. And it is too little common sense to do that also.
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Old April 3, 2012, 04:37 PM   #10
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Having lived with a dispatcher for 12 years,,,

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,,,
Quote:
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

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Old April 3, 2012, 04:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 04:48 PM   #12
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With respect to these:
Quote:
Originally Posted by kinggabby
I smell a huge lawsuit brewing on a big burner.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward429451
. . . .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:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CBS Denver, quoting Denver 911 Director Carl Simpson
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.
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Old April 3, 2012, 06:37 PM   #13
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Ever notice EMT ambulances and firefighters won't go to a crime scene till police secure it?

So why should you?

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Old April 3, 2012, 07:07 PM   #14
chadio
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Since when do salaries have anything to do with common sense and rational thinking?
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Old April 3, 2012, 08:05 PM   #15
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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.
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Old April 4, 2012, 07:30 AM   #16
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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
Quote:
So far there are no suspects in the shooting
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Old April 4, 2012, 08:24 AM   #17
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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."
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Old April 4, 2012, 08:44 AM   #18
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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.
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Old April 4, 2012, 09:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Ever notice EMT ambulances and firefighters won't go to a crime scene till police secure it?

So why should you?

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I'm chuckling at the irony.
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Old April 4, 2012, 09:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
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?
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Old April 4, 2012, 09:46 AM   #21
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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.
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Old April 4, 2012, 10:39 AM   #22
Marty Hayes
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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.
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Old April 4, 2012, 12:22 PM   #23
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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.
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Old April 4, 2012, 02:11 PM   #24
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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.
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Old April 5, 2012, 03:58 AM   #25
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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
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