(NewsReady.com) – Americans have an expectation that they’ll be taken seriously when they dial 911. That’s not what happened when a former police officer called the emergency service in Austin, Texas, to report a dead body. He was so upset about the response he received from law enforcement that he contacted the mayor.
On June 29, Dennis Farris, the president of the Austin Police Retired Officers Association, posted a letter on Twitter that the retired cop sent to Mayor Kirk Watson.
I got a copy of a email that was sent to the Mayor of Austin by one of the members of the APROA. This is unacceptable and there needs to be a solution now not months from now. If that means having the city and the county 9-1-1 operators being combined back into one unit or having… pic.twitter.com/t7MjY7kbdr
— Dennis Farris (@Farris_Actual) June 29, 2023
In the letter, retired Officer Robert A. Gross told Watson that he “attempted to contact 9-1-1 about a deceased person four or five times” on June 18. He went on to say that he never received a response, so his wife drove to a fire station near their home and asked them to contact the Austin Police Department.
Gross said, “There was a response within minutes.” When the Austin Fire Department arrived on the scene, he was still on the phone waiting for a 911 operator to answer when the firefighters responded. He went on to say it took 17 minutes and 22 seconds for the operator to respond.
An elderly couple lived next door to Gross and his wife. The deceased person in the backyard was the female neighbor. The retired officer said the male neighbor recently had head surgery and thought he might be a “second victim” because he was sitting on the sofa staring at the wall.
Gross told the mayor he was a retired deputy police chief who served the Austin Police Department from 1975 to 2002. From 1990 to 1994, he served as the chief of technical services, which included the communications division. He accused the city of failing “to maintain one of its primary responsibilities to provide [an] adequate” response when called.
According to reports, staff shortages have hit the Texas capital hard, including in the 911 call center. In April, police sergeants were reportedly filling in as operators to ensure there was an adequate response to emergency calls. Neither the mayor nor the department responded to questions about this incident.
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