Detroit 911 Operator Punished for Rebuff to Girl in Double Homicide
DETROIT - A 911 dispatcher who responded callously to a child pleading for help as her mother lay dying was disciplined late last week, Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans said Monday.
The dispatcher acted appropriately by sending a car in timely fashion, Evans said, but she should have shown more "sensitivity" toward the 8-year-old girl during the call.
"The dispatcher did everything right (hellip) but sometimes a little sensitivity is warranted," the chief said.
The dispatcher's attitude came to light last month when Evans released a 911 call in a double homicide. The 8-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister had been hiding inside a house on Glastonbury when their mother and mother's boyfriend - 27-year-old Monica Botello and 26-year-old Purcell Carson - were gunned down.
Though the tape was released in hopes of drawing public ire to help track down suspect Derrick Dennard Smith, 42 - who subsequently was arrested in California - the cavalier tone of the dispatcher drew criticism.
The dispatcher impatiently asked the girl to put her mother on the phone even though the girl said her mom was dying. Then the dispatcher asked to speak to the male victim, who the girl already said was dead.
The dispatcher's name wasn't released, nor was the specific disciplinary action she received. Both are personnel matters, police said.
Evans said some 911 dispatchers in Detroit need attitude adjustments when dealing with frantic callers. It's likely from spending many years on the job and dealing with thousands of calls a day, he acknowledged, but he said that dispatchers could be more reassuring and consoling without compromising their professionalism.
"We're going to continue to work on it," he said.