An overworked 911 call-taker didn’t send a Fort Worth police officer on a June 1 domestic call that ended in a double-murder and suicide, according to a news report.
Ex-911 operator Kate Colley told KXAS-TV that the stressed 911 dispatcher received a call from Holly Beverly, who reported that her estranged husband was on his way to her apartment in west Fort Worth to harm her.
The operator didn’t send an officer because the suspect wasn’t actually on the scene yet, Colley told the TV station.
Three people were later found shot to death in the apartment, including Beverly.
That Fort Worth case represents just one problem at the 911 call center as staffing issues and an increase in calls have plagued police officials in recent months.
“The Fort Worth Police Department has received inquiries about the homicide shooting that occurred in the 2900 block of Jonah Drive on Tuesday, 06/01/21,” said Fort Worth Officer Tracy Carter, a department spokesman, in a Thursday email. “We are saddened by the unnecessary loss of multiple lives in this domestic tragedy and our prayers are with the families of the victims. Media responses were provided at the time of the incident with the information that was available.”
Fort Worth police said the 911 call center is short 35 call-takers.
“The Fort Worth Police Department is committed to the safety and well being of our citizens,” Carter said. “We are currently reviewing the overall response to this incident to ensure we have the best policies in place to help prevent another tragedy like this from occurring in the future. Due to an open administrative investigation on this call, we are unable to provide any further information at this time.”
Fort Worth police announced on Tuesday that they were taking measures to hire more 911 call-takers and looking at ways to answer calls quickly.
The urgent need to address problems at the 911 call center comes at time when calls increase during the summer months, an ex-call-taker said.
A former Fort Worth call-taker said a dispatcher might answer 100 calls per shift on a normal day. In the days before and after the July 4 holiday, a caller could answer more than 300 per shift as residents swamp 911 with calls about fireworks.
“It’s non-stop,” said the ex-call-taker, who talked to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the condition that her name not be used, referring to the firework calls. “They forget that we’re answering medical, police and fire calls.”
In the June 1 case, Colley told KXAS-TV she was working the night Beverly called 911. Beverly’s call was about 45 minutes before the shooting occurred, which should have left plenty of time for an officer to arrive, she said.
“Our protocol, anything in that type of situation, we (are supposed to) send an officer,” Colley told KXAS-TV.
Colley, who began at the 911 call center in June 2020, quit the department a few days after the double-murder and suicide, she told the TV station. She did not respond to a request for comment from the Star-Telegram on Thursday.
Killed in the shooting were Beverly and her 17-year-old son, Titus Akins. The suspect, Beverly’s estranged husband Timothy Paul Beverly II, also died from gunshot wound to his head and his death was ruled a suicide.
After the shooting, a family member ran to a neighbor and called 911 three times, but the calls went unanswered, according to KXAS-TV.
Eventually, a neighbor of that mother drove her and Mila to the hospital. Mila was diagnosed with a febrile seizure, and she’s doing fine.
A severe staffing issue also exists at the 911 center in Dallas. Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV has reported.
Attention was called to the shortages last week after a Dallas woman was accused of stabbing her 7-year-old daughter to death. Dallas city officials confirmed to WFAA-TV that the wait time last Thursday, when the homicide was reported, was almost 12 minutes during peak call hours.
Officials at the North Texas Emergency Communication Center in Carrollton said on Thursday they are almost fully staffed, and they noted that year-to-date they had answered more than 99. percent of all calls within 15 seconds.
NTEC serves the cities of Addison, Carrollton, Coppell and Farmers Branch.