Kokomo police, fire officials criticize Howard County 911 center after deadly mistake

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KOKOMO, Ind. (July 30, 2015)-- City leaders in Kokomo are speaking out and voicing their frustration about how emergency calls are handled in their city.

The complaints come just a few weeks after a deadly mistake by a dispatcher.

Tammy Ford, 50, called 911 earlier this month at exactly 1:41 p.m. because she was having trouble breathing. Unfortunately, fire crews didn’t show up to her apartment until 1:58 p.m. after being dispatched to the wrong address.

That’s a problem Kokomo Fire Chief Nick Glover says illustrates a larger issue.

“We have more problems than just that one incident. It’s not isolated. It’s more deeply rooted,” said Glover.

Glover says his crews hear complaints from citizens on a daily basis about slow or improper dispatches. Officials with the police department say they see the same complaints.

“Our citizens expect a certain service and in my opinion they’re being let down,” said Glover.

“You can’t allow this behavior to continue,” said Kokomo police Major Tony Arnett. “The citizens are demanding to know why they’re calling for help and not getting it.”

Those in charge of the 911 center say each year more than 200,000 calls come in to their dispatchers and the fact is occasionally mistakes will be made despite everyone’s best intentions.

“We feel we should make no errors,” said Howard county sheriff Steven Rogers. “That may not be humanly possible, but that’s the goal is make no errors at all.”

Still, the sheriff says he is not ignoring the complaints.

“Being a dispatcher is a difficult job and I want the community to know we take every complaint serious and we’ll look into every one of these,” said Rogers.

The City and County used to have a joint dispatch center, but for the last four years it has been handled solely by the county.

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