Cop's death on domestic call leads to changes in Arlington

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Staff and Wire Reports

Posted on April 27, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 27 at 10:47 PM

ARLINGTON  — An Arlington dispatcher has been fired and a 911 call taker has resigned over policy violations revealed following a police officer's death.

Arlington authorities say those violations did not cause Officer Jillian Michelle Smith's December death. She was taking a woman's assault report when the ex-boyfriend stormed in and began shooting. The officer died while trying to protect the woman's 11-year-old daughter, and the man then killed his ex-girlfriend before killing himself.

Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson said Wednesday that the violations put officers' lives at risk. "It should've immediately been forwarded to the primary dispatcher," he said. "The primary dispatcher should've acted on that information immediately."

He said the two employees didn't relay information quickly and officers didn't know the suspect had returned to the apartment, although he was dead by the time they arrived.

"Fourteen minutes is way too long," said Arlington Police Association president Randle Meadows. "We want to know immediately if there's an incident in which somebody is hurt, or somebody is in a situation which they need immediate assistance. We want that to be as fast as possible."

While police do not believe that a faster response would have saved either innocent life in this case, they agree this problem needs to be solved to protect officers in the future.

Arlington confirmed Wednesday that they believe gunman Barnes Nettles used Officer Smith's weapon to shoot himself once in the head and take his own life during the incident.

Police said they are changing their policy on dispatching officers to delayed assault calls similar to the one in this case. They said from now on, two police officers will be sent. Officer Smith was sent out by herself.

The Arlington Fire Department oversees the city's 911 call center.

WFAA reporter Craig Civale in Arlington and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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