An investigation into the fatal shooting of a rookie Arlington, Tx., police officer has led to the firing of a dispatcher, the resignation of a 911 call taker, and a temporary change in how police officers will respond to domestic assault calls, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. While authorities say the errors made by the dispatcher and call taker did not contribute to officer Jillian Michelle Smith’s death — reporting that “there was nothing officers or dispatchers could have done to change the tragic outcome of this incident” — they say communication failures and policy violations at the 911 Dispatch Center jeopardized other officers’ lives.
The 24-year-old officer was shot in the head on Dec. 28 by Barnes Samuel Nettles, a registered sex offender with a long criminal history, who also killed his ex-girlfriend Kimberly Deshay Carter before turning a gun on himself. Carter’s 11-year-old daughter, who was at the apartment, escaped unharmed. Fire Chief Don Crowson found serious missteps that meant that police checking on Smith’s welfare were not warned that she had been shot and that the gunman could still be at the apartment. Police Chief Theron Bowman said that for the time being, at least two police officers will respond to all domestic assault calls, even ones where the assailant has reportedly left the scene. Previously the policy was to dispatch one officer to low-priority calls, but Bowman said the department would review its policies and procedures to “see what lessons there are to be learned.”