A 14-year-old girl calls 911. She’s home alone, in a desperate situation. But no one ever shows up to help.
It began at 10 p.m. Sunday night, November 5th. The 911 tapes tell the story. When the operator asks what her emergency is, Jana Kansanback answers, “Hi, I think there’s someone outside my house.” Jana is alone at her rural, Silvana home. A masked man has just slammed into her back door.
The 911 operator asks, “Did they knock on your door?”
You can hear Jana’s desperation, “No they like slammed up against my……”
“What I’m going to do is go ahead and notify the sheriff’s department of this okay?” the operator tells Jana. Help – is on the way.
But, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office was not on the way.
Although 911 operators clearly knew Jana’s situation, SnoPac Operations Manager Dave Ripley confirms, “we did not verbally advise them,” the Sheriff’s Office, “that it was a 14 year old home alone.” Also, for 23 minutes, they didn’t tell deputies there was a prowler outside the house.
Sheriff Rick Bart tells me they’ve had problems with SnoPac dispatchers before, but admits his office deserves part of the blame. “I think the deputy, no matter what, should have gotten out of the car, walked up to the door and knocked on the door,” says Sheriff Bart, “and told them, we’re here, we looked, we’ve seen nothing, everything’s okay.”
What we have here, is a failure, to communicate.
The dispatchers are definitely at fault here. They did not communicate all the facts to the deputy responding.
As for the “masked man”, I seriously doubt there was anyone there. If there had been a “masked man” intent on breaking in, he would have. The fact that he didn’t, leads me to believe that he was probably the figment of the girl’s overactive imagination.
I have probably handled hundreds of calls very similar to this. I can count the number of times that there was actually someone there on one hand. Most of the time the callers are young girls or women who are home alone.
But that’s no excuse for not responding as if it were real. You have no way of knowing what is going on until you get someone from your office there. People call up and tell us all kinds of things, but what the Deputies find when they arrive is almost invariably different from what we were told. It appears that the newspaper just took the girl’s word that there was a “masked man”. Since the deputy just did a drive by there is no way of knowing if there were signs of attempted entry.
I don’t think the girl was ever in any danger. But there is no doubt that the call was mishandled.