Dallas to review 911 system after murder victim's desperate call



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Posted on August 22, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 22 at 8:12 PM

DALLAS — Some Dallas city leaders want to take an extensive look at the 911 emergency call system after a woman’s death was captured on tape — two days before her body was found.

Deanna Cook died while waiting for help to arrive.

In an interview, the 911 operator who took Cook's desperate call said she could hear the screaming, but didn't know everything that was happening. She defended her actions.

Family members told News 8 they were upset by the operator's comments.

"She was screaming on that call, said the victim's sister, Karletha Gundy. "I just think more should have been done."

Officers responding didn't know the urgency of the call and left after they didn't see anything wrong at the address. The operator failed to relay to officers all the details of what was happening.

"Does it puzzle me? Yes," said Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway. "It has my concern now once again."

That's because this isn't the first time there have been questions about 911 response.

In June 2011, miscommunication led to Steven Jones mistakenly shooting at three Dallas police officers he thought were breaking into his apartment.

And on July 4 of this year, a Dallas home burned to the ground after a delay in sending fire trucks.

"Certainly, people must understand that when people call and are in distress, we have to have a much better temperament and professionalism about ourselves in knowing how to best handle those circumstances," Caraway said.

Mayor Mike Rawlings reserved comment on this latest incident. "Like all police activity that is immediate, I don't comment on it," he said. "I let the chief kind of look at that, then get back to me with a full report, and that's the right and prudent way to handle it."

In 2008, the city moved 911 operations from the fire department to the police department, hoping to prevent some of the miscommunication issues. The belief was that operators trained by police would better communicate the details of a 911 call to officers in the field.

But this latest case brings all of that into question again.

Dallas police announced a complete review of Deanna Cook's call, and are moving new people to the communications division to begin addressing some of the problems.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com