Murder victim's family takes little comfort in city's 911 upgrades

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on September 6, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 6 at 9:08 PM

DALLAS - The family of a murder victim who died while waiting for help responded Thursday to changes to the 911 system and the disciplinary actions against the 911 call takers, who made a series of mistakes.

"It's an emergency response system, and the system failed," said the victim’s sister, Karletha Gundy.

Gundy said she's watched as the Dallas Police Department has scrambled to fix some of the problems that Police Chief David Brown said contributed to her sister's death.

"I think it's a day late and a dollar short," Gundy said. "I think these policies and procedures should have already been in place."

You may remember Deanna Cook's case. Last month, she died while on the phone with a 911 operator who didn't immediately send help.

Her body was found two days later by her family, after a second 911 operator failed to send officers when the family called for help.

“We are always going to have some human failure, because none of us are perfect," said Chief David Brown in an interview with News 8 Wednesday. "We are willing to take those issues specifically and respond to them and make the appropriate adjustments."

Brown fired one of the operators involved, and suspended another.

911 is understaffed. There are 90 positions, but only 64 are filled. The chief is moving 7 Sergeants to 911 to help supervise, and he's moving 24 officers there to answer calls.

The chief has repeatedly said the problems with 911 aren't staffing related, but were the fault of human error and an old system.

So why the extra staffing now?
 
"We are always looking at improving, and improving doesn't mean there are issues," Chief Brown said.

That kind of talk frustrates the family.

"It just seems like they are trying to hide something, that they are trying to cover up," Gundy said.

Chief Brown said he and his department are being transparent and doing everything they can to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. The city plans to hire more call takers and upgrade the 911 system.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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