Capitol Hill 911 Call on Double Shooting Last Week Went Unanswered
ANC and Local 1D MPD Commander Hear Resident’s Story
by Larry Janezich
At last night’s ANC6B May meeting, a resident complained to District One Commander Jeff Brown that her calls to 911 to report the double shooting last Thursday night at 17th and Independence went unanswered. “Nobody answered, “ she said, adding, “I stayed on the line several minutes and was put in a holding pattern. What do we do for emergency service?”
Brown was quick to point out that residents who call 911 are calling a city agency – the Unified Communications Center (UCC) – and are not calling a police officer. He said that all calls are recorded, and if residents are put on hold, they should take the date and time and officials can go back and investigate why.
The UCC, which until May 3 was under the direction of Jennifer Greene, was opened in 2006 on the campus of the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital site. Its website states, “The UCC receives and processes calls to 911 and the District’s customer service line, 311. During major emergencies, the center becomes the District’s Emergency Operations Center (Mayor’s Command Center) and provides a central location for multiple agencies to address any variety of situations.”
Greene, a former MPD commander, was fired by Mayor Bowser last week after much public criticism of the agency’s failure respond to emergency calls in a consistent and reliable manner, and after Greene made several public missteps. Chris Geldart, the director of D.C.’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), was named to oversee the Office of Unified Communications until a new Director is appointed.
At Tuesday night’s ANC meeting, Commissioner Denise Krepp insisted that the commission send a letter to the Mayor, Charles Allen, and other city officials expressing concern, and she successfully inserted the item into last night’s agenda.
Lending support to resident’s concerns, Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk recounted her own experience last week related to an inordinately long response time to a night time emergency at her home.
The Commission subsequently voted 10 – 0 to send a letter which will be drafted by Krepp and vetted by the full commission. Commissioner Brian Flahaven, noted the presence at last night’s meeting of Commander Brown, Lt. Dykes, and representatives from Mayor Bowser’s office and the office of Counclmember Charles Allen, and said he was confident that the people who needed to know about the commission’s concern were already aware of it.
Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services representative Seth Shapiro rose to offer assurances that the ANC’s message had been received and would be conveyed to the Mayor.
Flahaven, as Chair of ANC6B’s Community Outreach and Constituent Services Taskforce, has recently supported undertaking an initiative to open lines of communication and better liaison with District One MPD.