Local News

Review: Fayetteville dispatchers broke protocol in family's slaying

Posted January 22, 2010 7:16 p.m. EST
Updated January 23, 2010 7:19 a.m. EST

— An internal investigation by the Fayetteville Police Department found that 911 dispatchers mishandled a call from the home of a Fayetteville man who shot his wife and two children before killing himself in November 2009, according to a release from city spokeswoman Jackie Tuckey late Friday.

Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine initiated the investigation into the handling of the Nov. 2, 2009, 911 call from the home of William "Billy" Maxwell Jr.

Police said that Billy Maxwell Jr., 47, killed his family – his wife, Kathryn Maxwell, 43, daughter Connor Maxwell, 17, and son Cameron Maxwell, 15 – then himself. The family pastor has said that Billy Maxwell was suffering from mental illness.

Someone called 911 from the Maxwell home at 314 W. Park Drive at 6:39 p.m. but never spoke to dispatchers, Tuckey said. Fayetteville Police Department Communications Center staff followed protocol by twice trying to contact someone in the residence and once leaving a voicemail.

Protocols require that after two failed attempts to establish contact after an abandoned 911 call, staff should dispatch an officer within 20 minutes of receiving the call.

An officer wasn’t dispatched until 7:52 p.m., police said. While an officer was en route, emergency dispatchers received a call from a concerned family member outside the residence.

Tuckey said that appropriate disciplinary action has been taken and that additional training and instruction about the necessity to adhere to protocols have been provided to all Communications Center staff. The city withheld the names of the staff members involved, citing personnel law.

Fayetteville Councilman Bill Crisp, who has recently criticized the Fayetteville Police Department for its handling of a series of recent rape cases, said wants the integrity of the city's emergency 911 system to be maintained.

“My impetus is on corrective action, not disciplinary action, but correction action in the sense of training and retraining so that we can avoid any recurrence of the human error in the future,” Crisp said.

Kathy Maxwell's Father, John Fox, said that he supports any training or efforts that will improve the system.

Fayetteville police plan to comment on these findings Monday.