Monday, April 6, 2009

Jennifer Johnson You're Saving Lives

My opinion then article to follow. And this is just my opinion. I hate to see anyone in this terrible economy lose their jobs but! In this case I have to agree with it. How sad and tragic for all involved in this debacle. But the Johnson family has lost so much more then their jobs. They lost a precious loved one. Their lives are shattered forever. Did the dispatcher and supervisors kill her? No. But just as in Charlotte County, what they did and didn't do directly led to her death.

God bless the Jennifer Johnson family always with as much peace and love as they can handle. May it comfort you to know that eyes are being opened throughout the state of Florida and lives are being saved by Jennifer.

9-1-1 will change in Florida and hopefully sooner rather than later.

God bless the Plant City Police Department for stepping up and doing the right thing by recognizing a critical problem and doing something about it.

Also, God bless all call takers and dispatchers with strength, diligence, common sense and compassion. It's impossible as in this and the Olidia Kerr Day case for victims who are about to be murdered to not get hysterical. It only makes Denise's call seem all that more miraculous. How did she retain her wits and smarts?

God I miss Denise.

Plant City police chief: One fired, three quit in wake of 911 murder case

PLANT CITY -- Under fire about how Plant City police handled a woman's last cry for help before she was found murdered, Chief Bill McDaniel said Monday one person has been fired, two others have resigned, and a fourth retired as a result of an internal investigation of the matter.

At a news conference today, McDaniel said Amanda Hill, a dispatcher since 2006, was fired Friday.

The two supervisors she told about the call she took from Jennifer Johnson, a cry for help from the trunk of a car, have left the force. Rita Liphman, a 20-year veteran with Plant City, resigned Friday. And Sgt. James Watkins retired effective Friday after 21 years with the department, he said.

And Capt. Darrell Wilson resigned Friday after 16 years with the department.

This was not a failure of policy, McDaniel said. All the policies for dealing with cell phones were in place and Wilson was wrong last week when he said they had no regulations for dealing with disconnected cell phone emergency calls.

"It's a failure, an absolute breakdown,'' McDaniel said. But "this is a breakdown of human beings. People failed to do the things they should have done.''

Jennifer Johnson, 31, was found murdered in an abandoned home in Lakeland on Nov. 18, three days after she dialed 911 from the trunk of her car, pleading for help.

Dispatcher Amanda Hill told a Tampa police investigator on Nov. 20 that after she got the call, she alerted two supervisors but neither listened to the tape and no officers were dispatched.

After Johnson's cellular call dropped, Hill didn't attempt to call her back.

Deputies say Johnson's ex-boyfriend, Vincent Brown, abducted Johnson and then killed her. Brown is being held without bail at Falkenburg Road Jail on first degree murder and kidnapping charges.

'It was clearly established where Johnson was, but she failed to go further and ask other questions,'' such as the identity of those involved, the type of car, he said.

And Hill said she thought policy was not to call the phone number back to protect the safety of the person who called, but that is not the policy, McDaniel said.

The Plant City Police Department has the full capability to get a certain amount of information from people who call 911 from cell phones, and the kind she had gave them the cell tower the signal went to and the phone number, he said. A more advanced cell phone would have also given latitude and longitude.

If Hill had properly followed protocol, she would have asked more questions, called Johnson back, contacted the cell provider and dispatched someone to find her, he said.

"I'm unable to explain why inaccurate information came from the captain,'' he said of Wilson. "If all the right steps had been followed, the potential for a different outcome is absolutely there.''

"There is not a policy change. The policy in place at the time was effective, and had it been followed ... ''the outcome might have been different."

Rebecca Catalanello, Times staff writer