Friday, December 19, 2008

Charlotte County 9-1-1 Center (setting the record straight)

First, some of the news centers and papers have erroneously reported or inferred that all the calls made to 9-1-1 centers that night were mishandled. This is simply untrue. The calls that were handled in Sarasota County and by the North Port Police Department were handled very appropriately.

There were 5 calls all together.

1.) Nathan's original call was handled by the North Port Police Department.

2.) Sabrina Muxlow's call (I believe) was handled by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

3.) Harold Muxlow's call (I believe) was also handled by the SCSO.

4.) Denise's call was handled by Sarasota County as well.

5.) Jane Kowalski's call was handled by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

All were handled appropriately and in a timely manner except for Kowalski's call. Please, understand that we understand that the women on duty in the Charlotte County 9-1-1 center were under severe stress. They were also understaffed. They were working a 12 hour shift. And were at the tail end of it. They should know that we forgive their human errors and we hope we can one day move on from this and fix some of the things that went wrong that night. I've read the Internal Affairs report 3 times. There was human error. But there was also neglect on the part IMO of the call taker and by some of her superiors.

1.) She wasn't using the CAD properly and not the way she was trained to use it. Apparently she's been reprimanded for this before at least twice. Personally I have a very difficult time forgiving her negligence in not using the technology she had at her fingertips the way it was meant to be used. She's obviously been trained to use it but has repeatedly refused to. This IMO and other mishaps directly led to Denise's death.

This is where I would like to explain what the CAD is. CAD stands for Computer Aided Dispatch. You can google CAD system images to see what it looks like but I think I can describe it to you. It looks like any other computer monitor. The call taker is supposed to enter information into the computer as she's receiving it from the 9-1-1 caller. The call taker asks questions, should control the conversation and at the same time input the information the caller is giving her in real time. At this same time deputies in the field have CAD systems in their cars and are keeping their eyes on them. They can see the information the call taker is entering instantly.

2.) Now our call taker was on the phone with Ms Kowalski for 9 minutes. Plenty of time to enter at least a little bit of information if not all of the information. You can hear on the 9-1-1 tape she's rattled. You can hear her stress. At the very least she could've typed "Camaro going southbound on 41 and turning east on Toledo Blade Blvd" in less than one of those precious nine minutes. According to the testimony of the Charlotte County deputies in the field that night they were waiting by their computers in their cars. Unfortunately, our call taker has to write things down on pieces of paper before she can enter any info into the CAD. So from the time Ms Kowalski's call came in at 6:30PM it took our call taker until 6:42PM before she entered it into the CAD. That's twelve close to thirteen precious minutes. Even one of the dispatchers in her testimony expresses frustration and says this is "archaic" and "why have the system if we don't use it?". Good question. You can have the best technology in the world but if you don't use it, it's worthless.

3.) Also, our call taker shouted the information across the room. She testifies she shouted it to Dispatcher A, but Dispatcher A and Dispatcher B say she shouted it at Dispatcher B. Huh? Yeah. That's what I thought.

4.) Our call taker doesn't confirm her information was received. She just assumes according to her own testimony that the information went out. Huh? I've read the Charlotte County 9-1-1 call taker training manual and it says nothing about pieces of paper or shouting across rooms. The training manual also says that not using the CAD in an appropriate manner is "unacceptable". Gee. It also says without confirmation there is no communication.

5.) This woman has been a call taker for 15 years. When asked about her training she chuckled. What did that chuckle mean? That her training was useless? That she doesn't need training? What's there to chuckle about? A life was lost.

If I sound angry, well, I am. This woman is still on the job, still doing things the same way, still writing on pieces of paper and still shouting across the room.

That's scary and that's wrong. This woman does not deserve to keep her job. Is it her fault? IMO Yes and no. Yes, because she doesn't take enough pride in her profession to respect and use the technology available to her and no because her bosses let her get away with this. Well this time it cost a life. It cost a toddler and an infant their mother. With the job climate the way it is, I believe they could find someone a little more suitable.

Sadly, it comes down to politics. Just as everything always does. Her husband has been a fire man for 25 years for the county. She's experienced. They hate to lose her. Bah! IMO, this woman has no business being a call taker. She is obviously incompetent in the eyes of most people. If the CCSO is hesitant in firing her, at least, transfer her to a department where lives are not at stake.

If that hasn't already made you sick, read this. In the call center there are four jobs:

shift supervisor
call taker
Teletype operator

Well, tragically, for Denise and our family on the day Denise went missing, the CCSO sent their Teletype operator home early so as not to pay overtime. Under normal circumstances, I don't know, this may be okay. But this isn't a normal circumstance because one of their own sergeant's daughter was missing. You'd think they call someone and bring some extra help in. Someone to keep an eye on the Teletype machine. No, they don't do that. They rely on the two overworked overstressed dispatchers to monitor the machine every 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind, a Teletype machine does not turn off. It just types and types as long as there's information to type. So it's tap, tap, tap, tap in the corner. And keep in mind it's 5 PM and the dispatchers have been on the job since 6:30AM. What is received over the Teletype? BOLOs. Be On the Look Out alerts. Our Teletype machine went unmonitored IMO for 3 hours and 15 minutes. Three BOLO alerts came over the Teletype from North Port at 4:59, 5:58, and 6:46. All 3 mention Denise, a green Camaro, and pudgy white guy 30-40 years of age. These BOLOs are obviously supposed to go into the CAD system we talked about earlier so the deputies in the field can see them. Not one was entered into the CAD. Not one deputy saw them. Not one was responded to. They were all ignored.

These BOLOs are also supposed to be entered into a "pass on log" for the oncoming shift to read and initial. Nope. Not there either. The deputies in the field testify "there were no real leads" as late as 6:45PM. When all along the BOLOs were coming as early as 4:59PM. The deputies were complaining that North Port wasn't giving them any information. I remember Rick's frustration and the CCSOs frustration out at the house that North Port was not giving them anything to go on. BUT they were! The dispatchers just weren't passing it on. Clearly, the dispatchers who were supposed to be monitoring that machine were not. Is this their fault? I don't know. They were obviously overwhelmed.

Meanwhile the dispatcher the call taker handed the piece of paper on doesn't read it. I guess she didn't think she had to because she knew eventually it would be entered into the CAD. I don't know. But she passes on the piece of paper not to the person who was relieving her from her shift but to the other dispatcher's relief person. Huh? So, now the oncoming dispatchers have the piece of paper but it never gets aired. Huh?

The on coming dispatchers testify that at 6:45PM all they knew from the pass on (which I have a copy of) is that Rick Goff's daughter was missing, the children may have been involved and that K-9 was requested. Huh? This is 6:45, what about what came over the Teletype and the 6:46PM Teletype?

What about the shift supervisor who was supposed to be in control of the situation and be in charge?

The shift supervisor testified "I didn't know what was going on. I mean, I was patching radios. I mean, I knew Millie had a call but I didn't know what it was all about" or something to that effect. Only Mille (the call taker) says she knew about a green Camaro and she testifies twice that it was because she heard it over the Sarasota County radio. Not her own dispatchers or Teletype. Huh?

Yes, I know. It sounds as if Larry, Moe and Curly could've done a better job.

Frustratingly, we know that people in authority knew all about this. We know from Kowalski's call. When you listen to the call you hear the call taker asking for direction. "what does 'he' want to do?" You also hear her say "Please, bear with me ma'am, Everybody in here is hollering at me". Well the only people who would be hollering would be people in authority.

It's even more frustrating that we don't know who these people are. It's not the shift supervisor, because she didn't know what was going on and was patching radios. The other two people in charge? Bill Cameron (the newly elected sheriff) was Communications Chief that night. And Capt Donna Roguska was Director of Communications. Fortunately for them Capt Roguska led the investigative team into the I/A report. How convenient. And Bill Cameron wasn't interviewed.

They insist and said this just this past week that we have nothing to worry about because the FDLE (Florida Dept of Law Enforcement) sat in on the entire investigation. WRONG AGAIN! Another lie to add to their holsters. The FDLE sat in on very little of the investigation and didn't ask a single question. How convenient.

You may wonder why I'm writing this. Well there are a couple of reasons. Yes, it's cathartic but more importantly we know these things are still going on with the same inept people. We feel it's our moral and civic duty to bring these mistakes to light. And there's more but this is all I can get out right now. We do not want to see other lives at risk. And they are. As long as that woman is employed as a call taker it'll continue to happen. I don't trust her or her superiors. Any woman who chuckles while testifying about a tragedy like this could be considered a psychopath in my opinion. It's just heartless. She doesn't see that she did anything wrong in her testimony. It's disgusting.

Please understand that I have the greatest admiration and respect for the men and women who risk their lives for us everyday in the CCSO. Especially those in CCSO uniforms who helped us search. And any call takers and dispatchers who they employ who are honorable and take pride in their profession.

But there are certain people in the CCSO that have brought dishonor to their uniforms. They've tainted the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office with their politics and manipulation of the facts. The way they've treated our family, and the way they treated Ms Kowalski was and still is unconscionable. But that's another post for another day.

This one has become too angry.

added edit: John Davenport and Bill Cameron would have the public and us believe that they issued a BOLO at 6:36 in response to Kowalski's call. WRONG! Another attempt of spin and manipulatie of the facts. In their own internal affairs report it is testified by several people that the BOLO issued by the CCSO was requested by Sgt Floyd Davis. He and Rick had just finished listening to the frantic 911 call from Denise where she confirms she been kidnapped and was in a green Camaro. It was only after this that CCSO deputies knew to start looking for a green Camaro. 6:36PM. And most of them heard about the green Camaro from officers in the field. Not dispatch. Geez, maybe they should read their own I/A investigation so they can get their facts straight.