Domestic violence calls common for 911 dispatchers - WNCN: News, Weather

Domestic violence calls common for 911 dispatchers

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A 911 dispatcher helping a caller in Raleigh A 911 dispatcher helping a caller in Raleigh

A woman in Dallas pleads on the phone with a 911 dispatcher for more than eight minutes, as her husband attacks and kills her.   Deanna Cook called 911, but help never arrived in time. It's a story you saw Friday night on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.

It took 50 minutes from the time the call was made to the time police finally arrived at the home.  When no one answered the door, police officers left.

That dispatcher, Tonyita Hopkins, said she tried to them there as fast as she could, notifying others in the dispatch center that the call was urgent.  Hopkins blames institutional failures, but Cook's family is still searching for answers from Dallas Police and 911.


WNCN wanted to find out how our local 911 dispatchers handle domestic violence calls.

We paid a visit to the Raleigh-Wake 911 Call Center on Friday.  The operators inside are on the front lines of communication when emergencies happen.

"We just try to keep the people as calm as possible and try and offer them information," Shift Supervisor Scot Rademacher said.

In 2012, the Raleigh-Wake 911 center received more than 862,000 calls and Rademacher says all too often, the person on the other line is the victim of domestic violence.

"Quite a bit," Rademacher said.  "It's one of the more popular calls that we get down here in the center, so we deal with those on a regular basis."

That was the case in November 2012 when Amber Seymour of Holly Springs called 911.  She was concerned about her abusive husband.

"I caught him doing some other stuff a few months ago and when I confronted him he shoved me and got in my face and was yelling at me when I was holding the kids," she could be heard saying on the 911 call.

Weeks later, police found Seymour and her husband dead in their home.  It was the result of a murder-suicide.   Rademacher says all too often domestic cases do escalate.

"It always has the potential to do so, yes.  We always assume that could happen," he said.

And that's why he says domestic calls are treated with one of their highest priorities.  Rademacher says rarely are police not dispatched to those calls, usually arriving within a couple of minutes.  Still, those minutes can seem like an eternity for those needing help.

"Someone's asking you for help, pleading for you to get there as quick as possible and even though you're going as fast as possible, you know, time, sometimes seems like it's going slow, especially in a very volatile situation," Rademacher said.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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