Local News

Police: Misplaced 911 call caused delayed response time, not staffing issue

Posted December 21, 2017 9:07 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2017 8:03 a.m. EST

— Officials with the Raleigh Police Department said that a error at the emergency communication call center is the reason officers took nearly an hour to respond to a home after a woman reported a break-in.

According to the department's public information officer, once Raleigh police got the call about the break-in, they were able to respond to the home in seven minutes. Officials said the confusion took place in the initial 911 call when the emergency communication center processed the call incorrectly, which didn’t communicate the call properly to the Raleigh Police Department.

Authorities say a burglary call is a high priority call, but the call was incorrectly entered with a lower priority status.

The department called it an unfortunate incident but says it was a miscommunication issue and not a staffing issue as originally stated.

Police say they met with the homeowner Friday and are looking to see how this type of situation can be avoided in the future.

The caller, who did not want to be identified, said her Plainview Avenue home was broken into Tuesday evening. “All of a sudden, I hear the dogs barking,” she said. “[I was just] screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘Help. Call 911.’”

Cameras caught the strangers entering her home and the woman called 911 at 6:34 p.m., telling the dispatcher “I just had kids break into my house.”

“We will get officers out there as quickly as possible, OK,” the dispatcher can be heard saying to the woman. The suspects who broke into the home left quickly, after they heard the barking dogs, and neighbors walked over to check on the homeowner but police had not arrived.

The woman made a second 911 call at about 7 p.m. to find out why officers had not yet arrived.

“I called at 6:34 p.m. regarding a break-in and there is still no response,” the woman says during the second 911 call.

The operator tells the woman that police were tied up with a shooting call. “You are next up, assuming nothing crazy violent like that happens to deter them again,” the dispatcher says.

Raleigh police and the Emergency Communications Center are investigated the way the burglary call was handled. “We are committed to always having strong, reliable communication between these two important departments,” the agencies said in a statement.

The woman said that, when officers finally arrived, they handled the incident professionally. She hopes the investigation into her call will help to improve the system. “How can there be a 50-minute delay in responding to an active breaking and entering,” the woman said. “Make sure the cops are supported in their staffing and figure out how this can be happening.”

Matthew Cooper, president of the Raleigh Police Protective Association, released this statement about response times on Thursday:

Our officers do their best to respond to calls for service in a expedient and safe manner to ensure the safety of both the officers and citizens. Officers find that they can be unjustly criticized for responding too slowly or too swiftly to these calls. Our officers for years have been concerned about the staffing levels of both our patrol and investigative divisions. In 2015 there was a workload study that was completed concerning the workload and deployment of our patrol officers. We have yet to see any major transformative changes implemented as a result of the recommendations of the study. Since the completion of the study we have experienced a significant loss of staff due to retirements and officers seeking employment with agencies with less demanding work expectations and higher pay.

We have also experienced a large growth in the population to whom we serve. We believe we have not seen a growth in our department to keep up with these demands so we can successfully keep our officers and the citizens of Raleigh safe.