SEATTLE — The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is unhappy with the way a 911 dispatcher handled a call from the caseworker who tried to summon deputies to Josh Powell’s home just before he killed his children and himself.
The caseworker’s call resulted in nearly seven minutes of questioning by the dispatcher before he said he would send a deputy. A short time later, the Graham house erupted in flames, killing everyone inside.
"We’re not happy with the way that dispatcher is bantering (with the caseworker)," sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ed Troyer said Wednesday morning. "We understand that could have been handled better."
Troyer said that it’s likely sheriff’s deputies could have arrived at the home sooner had the 911 call been handled differently. He also noted that the caseworker could not immediately provide Powell’s address, making it difficult to dispatch deputies.
However, he said he doubts the children could have been saved.
"Once that fire started, it was all over," he said.
The caseworker called for help just after noon Sunday after Powell whisked his two sons into his house and shut the door in her face. The caseworker had taken Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, to Powell’s home for what was supposed to be a routine court-ordered visit.
Fearing for the boys’ safety, the woman dialed 911 to report what happened in a case involving a man who she reported was "on a very short leash with DSHS ..."
But the male dispatcher responded with nearly seven minutes of nonstop questions about Powell and the children, details about her job and information about the car she was driving.
He said detectives are working on a precise timeline showing how long it took deputies to arrive after the first 911 calls. Troyer believes deputies arrived at the home within minutes of being dispatched.
(c)2012 The Seattle Times
Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services