911 call complaint puts spotlight on training
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/07/2022 (325 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg woman is calling for a 911 operator training review, after an encounter with an intruder in her home.
Angela Chalmers, 44, woke up to her dog, Loki, growling around 6:30 a.m. June 18, and went down the stairs to the main floor of her Earl Grey home to see what was going on.
“I saw a stranger lying on the couch in my living room,” Chalmers said Wednesday. “I grabbed my dog and we went back upstairs and went into my roommate’s room and I woke him up… We decided to barricade ourselves in the bedroom and call 911.”
Chalmers said the operator told her Winnipeg police were busy but on their way, then asked if she would be OK going downstairs to wake the man up herself.
“No, no — absolutely not,” she said she told the operator. “It was presented as an option: either wait or go wake them up.”
Police arrived after a bit more than 20 minutes, and four officers took the person, who was intoxicated, from Chalmers’ home. The officers handled it well, she said, and told her the man was so “out of it” that he didn’t appear to know where he was. Chalmers is not interested in the man being charged with a crime.
“Regardless of what their intention was, it was absolutely terrifying to have somebody in your house unexpectedly like that,” she said.
The incident was reviewed, and the call taker who spoke with the complainant was provided with feedback regarding the handling of the call, some of which deviated from standard practice, a city police spokesman said.
The unit manager for the communications centre will be reaching out to the victim of this incident to discuss the matter, the spokesman added, noting response times vary on time of day and urgency, but in this particular instance, it was considered appropriately and timely dispatch.
Chalmers noted she doesn’t plan to file a formal complaint, nor does she want the operator disciplined. She said a Winnipeg Police Service representative left her a message Tuesday, and she planned to phone back to speak about the incident.
“Whatever is happening right now is not sufficient — my biggest hope is sharing my story and seeing how many people have similar stories, the 911 operators will receive more adequate training,” she said.
Chalmers said she had a prior break-in while living in Vancouver 12 years ago, after a case of mistaken identity. She was assaulted and nearly killed, she said, and now lives with a physical disability.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.
Updated on Wednesday, July 20, 2022 6:28 PM CDT: Clarifies wording about potential charges.