Dallas chief offers new details on mishandled 911 call



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Posted on August 25, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 25 at 10:52 PM

DALLAS — Dallas police chief David Brown faced an emotional crowd in the wake of recent high-profile police incidents at a community meeting in South Dallas on Saturday morning.

Brown addressed the department's most recent controversy, a mishandled 911 call. He revealed the emergency operator did in fact try to get Deanna Cook's August 17 call for help "upgraded."

"She heard the tape; she knew the urgency of getting that call upgraded, and she tried, but it just didn't happen," the chief explained. "It didn't happen, and it was human failure."

Brown did not elaborate on how the operator failed to get the call "upgraded."

During that 11-minute call, the Dallas mother begged for help as her ex-husband attacked her, but the 911 operator failed to explain that to the responding officers.

Cook died, and her body wasn't found for two days.

Chief Brown also said the 911 operator was distracted trying to get an address, because the call came in via cell phone.

"[The operator] was looking at three different screens while she was trying to get the call there fast and upgrade to the highest priority," Brown said.

The chief quickly moved to add new call signals so that calls like this can be upgraded quickly, giving patrol officers the green light to drive fast with their lights and sirens and make an emergency entry.

But there's no reason that could not have been done in Deanna Cook's case if the operator had only told the officers that she was being attacked.

"[The operator] obviously failed at that, and it cost the life of Ms. Cook," Brown said.

The chief said he plans to meet with Cook's family next week and personally apologize for what happened.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com