911 dispatcher makes mistake; homeowner waits 5 hours for police - WSMV News 4

911 dispatcher makes mistake; homeowner waits 5 hours for police

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Metro police are apologizing to a man after it took five hours to respond to a burglar alarm.

But police say they aren't to blame and that the city's communications center made a serious mistake.

The News 4 I-Team has been investigating alarm calls and lengthy police response times for more than a year.

In the 911 call between Rodger Murray’s alarm company and Nashville’s 911 center, a dispatcher said they request a responder within an hour.

Murray was out to dinner with friends when he got the call telling him his burglar alarm had gone off and motion was detected inside his house.

Since the alarm company called 911 he knew police would be on their way. Or so he thought.

"You had just assumed police had come in that time?” the I-Team’s Lindsay Bramson asked.

“Exactly, and didn't find anything wrong and had left,” Murray said.

No officer showed up. At 10 p.m., there was a knock at his door.

"I was really shocked and amazed when I opened the door and a policeman was standing there,” Murray said.

The first officer arrived five hours later. Luckily it was a false alarm.

The I-Team called police and started asking questions. According to police, the call got lost.

“If I had been shot I would've bled to death if I had laid here for five hours,” Murray said.

Police said the dispatcher alerted two officers who were already on calls and unable to respond. So the call sat pending and never got assigned to someone else.

The I-Team has learned that dispatcher was still in training and had been on the job for just two months.

“We believe that alarm call just got lost. It is not acceptable,” said Don Aaron, spokesman with the Metro Nashville Police Department.

Police records show when Murray’s alarm went off there were 10 to 15 other calls pending from the South Precinct. Everything from domestic violence calls to shots fired. The South Precinct is the city's busiest with more nearly 400 calls for service a day.

Regardless, Metro police's spokesman said there were opportunities to get an officer to Murray’s home faster.

“Well, I think the Emergency Communications Center staff can use this as a training opportunity for their new employees,” Aaron said.

Days after the I-Team started investigating, Murray received a call from Metro police apologizing for the delayed response.

"He was just very apologetic and gave me his phone number and his name,” Murray said.

While police say a mistake was made and there was a collapse in the system, the director at Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center, where the 911 calls come in, disagrees.

“It was just an incredibly busy, busy night. And it wasn't that it was lost or not attended to, it was put in the pending and they get to them as they can by priority,” said Director Michele Donegan.

The Emergency Communications Center is now doing its own investigation into what happened.

"So what we need to do when there are errors is to take those errors, find out how they happened and where they happened, where the breakdown is and what we can do to prevent that in the future,” Donegan said.

Dispatchers in Nashville currently go through about three and a half months of training. The dispatcher who took the call that night is still on the job.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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