Dispatchers Watching Movie Fail To Send Troopers To Crash

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AceWeb

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Outch even reading the headline!

DENVER -- A Colorado State Patrol trooper was not sent to a car crash for nine minutes after it was called into a 911 center because a dispatcher was watching a Christmas movie, officials said Monday. In that time, the Mazda sedan that had struck a deer sat disabled in a lane of traffic, with no lights or flashers. Before troopers arrived, a second driver approaching the Mazda swerved to avoid it, lost control and rolled into the center median, officials said. Heather Clinton, 20, and her brother, Earl “E.J.” Clinton, 22 were ejected. Heather was killed.

Full story at Dispatchers Watching Movie Fail To Send Troopers To Crash - Denver News Story - KMGH Denver .
That is scary to even think that something like this could happen and and very sad to know that it did.
 

AceWeb

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Have not posted much yet so my post was caught in moderation queue for approval. Once I saw yours I did not find a way to cancel this one.

Did not know that this happens more often. Take the DVD players away?
 

DPD1

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Credit to them for disclosing what really happen at least.
 
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Many years ago when I was the only graveyard shift dispatcher for a small town, I watched TV all the time, just to stay awake. Like anything else, it's not the TV viewing that is responsible, it is the ability to correctly prioritize what you're doing so that you get your job done in a professional manner. That's why there are pause buttons and mute buttons...
What is disturbing here (and all the facts are not yet known) is that there were at least 3 people in that comm center at the time, and it is possible that they all were somewhat responsible.
I listened to this call as it went down (it's on the feed archives, too)...IIRC, the nearest trooper was some distance away. The 9 minute delay may, or may not, have made any difference, since it's not clear if the trooper could have gotten there in time to prevent the 2nd accident.
I will give kudos to the CSP for being open about this and not hiding it.
 

MikeyB

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Many years ago when I was the only graveyard shift dispatcher for a small town, I watched TV all the time, just to stay awake. Like anything else, it's not the TV viewing that is responsible, it is the ability to correctly prioritize what you're doing so that you get your job done in a professional manner. That's why there are pause buttons and mute buttons...
What is disturbing here (and all the facts are not yet known) is that there were at least 3 people in that comm center at the time, and it is possible that they all were somewhat responsible.
I listened to this call as it went down (it's on the feed archives, too)...IIRC, the nearest trooper was some distance away. The 9 minute delay may, or may not, have made any difference, since it's not clear if the trooper could have gotten there in time to prevent the 2nd accident.
I will give kudos to the CSP for being open about this and not hiding it.
What's the protocol for dispatching a local (El Paso SO or Fountain PD if it was in Fountain)? Does it depend on if they're closer or will they never dispatch local? I see Jeffco SO on C-470 all the time. In general how does it work?
 
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What's the protocol for dispatching a local (El Paso SO or Fountain PD if it was in Fountain)? Does it depend on if they're closer or will they never dispatch local? I see Jeffco SO on C-470 all the time. In general how does it work?
I believe that by the time CSP got on scene (after the 2nd wreck occured), Fountain PD and FD were there. Typically, it's up to the CSP to call for local agencies to assist. Fountain FD handles calls for a long stretch of I-25, and although I can't swear to be an expert on their protocols, I do believe that if the FD goes, the PD will go with them.
EPSO does assist when asked, as does Fountain PD.
 

Toneslider12

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Did not know that this happens more often. Take the DVD players away?
There will always be people who make poor decisions and there will always be distractions whether it's a TV, studying, knitting or falling asleep from boredom. Taking away items that keep dispatchers entertained and awake would be a knee jerk reaction to a bigger problem. Thousands of public safety workers are able to separate themselves from entertainment when it's time to go to work. Firefighters for example are always training, working out, cooking, watching TV etc... but they can turnout for a call within seconds. The solution would be to retain better employees or ensure more supervision on every shift.

I've worked as a dispatcher for 6 years and can't imagine why, even with a good movie on, it would take that long to dispatch a unit... especially with three people there. I hope the investigation finds a better reason for the dealy. If it doesn't, those that made the bad choice should be disciplined accordingly.
 

GrayJeep

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The REAL culprit is the Mazda driver who didn't light up his vehicle as it sat unlit, in the dark, in the travelled lane of traffic. There might be a reason for that but..... Even if the trooper had been dispatched within 30 seconds of the first call the second crash could have happened just as quickly.

The absence of the trooper didn't cause the second crash.

It just brought to light some bad behavior at dispatch that needs to be corrected.
 
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The REAL culprit is the Mazda driver who didn't light up his vehicle as it sat unlit, in the dark, in the travelled lane of traffic. There might be a reason for that but..... Even if the trooper had been dispatched within 30 seconds of the first call the second crash could have happened just as quickly.

The absence of the trooper didn't cause the second crash.

It just brought to light some bad behavior at dispatch that needs to be corrected.
News reports at the time said that the accident "disabled" the first car (a Mazda 3, which is pretty small), to the point where it could not be moved off the road. It's not inconceivable that the car battery was disabled and couldn't light up anything.
Unlike commercial vehicles, there is no requirement for traffic triangles, etc in passenger cars.
 

n0doz

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As usual, how something "looks" afterward is more important than the facts.
I really have a hard time believing that any professional dispatcher deliberately failed to air a call if an officer was available to take it.
Food for thought: was the trooper for that area even in service? Was the call specific about the hazard or so vague (or even misleading) that putting it in the queue was appropriate?
It's a shame that a second collision occurred but those things happen all the time, even with an officer on the scene. Many times, it's the lit-up police car that gets hit. I think it's appropriate to investigate, but putting dispatchers on "admin leave" is not only excessive, but unfair.
 
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As usual, how something "looks" afterward is more important than the facts.
I really have a hard time believing that any professional dispatcher deliberately failed to air a call if an officer was available to take it.
Food for thought: was the trooper for that area even in service?
CSP 2B has numerous troopers on 24/7. We're not talking a rural part of the state with "on call" troopers.

Was the call specific about the hazard or so vague (or even misleading) that putting it in the queue was appropriate?
From what I heard, it was specific enough (it occurred near two large and readily visible landmarks). You can listen to the archives, if you want to see what you think.

I think it's appropriate to investigate, but putting dispatchers on "admin leave" is not only excessive, but unfair.
Well, maybe, but that is also based on not knowing all the details, either (and except for those directly involved, none of us know all the facts). It is paid leave, so it may be the normal way they do things. It is not unusual.
 

jfab

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It is paid leave, so it may be the normal way they do things. It is not unusual.
It's probably the equivalent to an officer involved shooting. It's standard procedure to put an officer on paid admin leave after a shooting.

Toneslider, wouldn't CAD have started flashing and/or beeping or something if the call was pending for so long? Someone would have HAD to have seen that call pending. I'm not a dispatcher, but I am assuming with how advanced CADs are now, that the dispatcher(s) would have had to ignore it?
 

Troop

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It's probably the equivalent to an officer involved shooting. It's standard procedure to put an officer on paid admin leave after a shooting.

Toneslider, wouldn't CAD have started flashing and/or beeping or something if the call was pending for so long? Someone would have HAD to have seen that call pending. I'm not a dispatcher, but I am assuming with how advanced CADs are now, that the dispatcher(s) would have had to ignore it?
In a center like that...they answer the calls and dispatch..they're not like the Denver Center and have a separate ID section.....I'll just say this..I think it's unforntunate but you'd be surprised how many dispatchers are nose deep in their iPhone or Blackberry while running a radio...and I think there's more to the story for such a quick release to the press and suspensions without going through our usual chains of internal investigations...I think the patrol has always been forthcoming with wrongdoings of employees but this seemed a little fast
 

Toneslider12

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Toneslider, wouldn't CAD have started flashing and/or beeping or something if the call was pending for so long? Someone would have HAD to have seen that call pending. I'm not a dispatcher, but I am assuming with how advanced CADs are now, that the dispatcher(s) would have had to ignore it?
I can't say how CSP's system is set up for sure but; if the call originated as a 911, an incident screen should have been generated by the CAD with the basic cell info... altleast that's how every system I've seen works. Assuming theirs works the same way, the call would have sat in the pending or waiting que until the dispatcher did something with it. So your theory would be correct, it would have been visible to everyone in the dispatch center.
 

Warbirdhunter

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When I was an explorer in Greenwood, I liked to work in Dispatch on graveyard. True Greenwood Village dies at about 0200, and most dispatchers would read or study in the quiet times. When that phone rings, they flipped a switch and the professional dispatcher was back. No ones perfect..
 

speard

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This is a bad situation all around.

Toneslider, newer CAD systems can be programmed to alert for any reason. If I'm not mistaken, the CAD systen used by CSP is ancient. Motorola is no longer going to support it, so they need a new one.

In my agency, this wouldn't happen due to watching a movie. If we weren't to dispatch this call in a timely manner, it'd simply be because there were no people to send, and we'd document it accordingly.

What Troop said is most likely true in almost every agency across the country. Some dispatchers seem to mutli-task better than others.
 
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