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Detroit Police Chief: 911 Dispatcher Who Acted Too Slow To Face Criminal Charges

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New Detroit Police Headquarters. (credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

New Detroit Police Headquarters. (credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s police chief is cracking down on his own staff in an effort to improve police response times — with two dispatchers potentially facing criminal complaints for acting too slow in cases where victims ended up dead or critically wounded.

Chief James Craig announced that a 911 dispatch officer is expected to face criminal charges after an internal affairs investigation revealed he didn’t send help for an hour when someone called 911 in May. When officers got there, the victim had been fatally stabbed.

The dispatcher has been suspended without pay, and the case has been turned over to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

“In June, 2013, the warrant request was returned to DPD because further investigation was requested by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office … It is our understanding that they continuing to complete the investigatory work that was requested,” the department said in a press release.

In a separate incident in August, a 911 dispatcher is accused of not sending a police vehicle to the scene of a domestic dispute involving a gun — when a vehicle was, in fact, available.

The woman allegedly called 911 six times begging for help, and by the time officers arrived an hour later she had been critically wounded by an AK-47. An internal affairs investigation into that case is ongoing.

Craig told the Detroit News the actual response time, once the dispatcher alerted officers, was only eight minutes. The shooter is still on the loose.

Neither accused dispatcher’s name has been released.

A Detroit police spokesperson said these two incidents, along with other dispatch issues — including two recent incidents during which the communication system crashed —  have prompted Craig to replace the commander of the Detroit Police Department’s 911 dispatch section.

Commander Todd Bettison will be demoted and transferred; and Inspector Daniel Allen, a 28-year veteran of the force, will take over.

Craig, on the job as Detroit’s top cop since June, has said he wants to speed up emergency call response times that are currently clocked at about 50 minutes.

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