Friday, November 13, 2009

Baltimore Police May Have Bumbled Emergency Calls

The Baltimore Sun has an article today examining police response to October 16 fatal hit-and-run by a drunk driver. Thomas Meighan had already been convicted of drunk driving nine times before he hit JUH student Miriam Frankl. She was crossing St. Paul Street.

Meighan was spotted all over the city driving erratically and dangerously, and now the question is if police took the reports seriously. Here are the heartbreaking, infuriating, excerpts:
Walters dialed the 311 nonemergency number, because, he said, he wanted police to be on the lookout, and not necessarily to immediately respond to his location. After he got a recording, he hung up and dialed 911.

He told the operator, "I'd like to report something."

Walters wanted to report a breaking crime.

The operator apparently thought he wanted to file a police report. She quickly answered: "We don't make reports over the phone."

Walters answered: "OK, OK, I, I, no. I've just been following this drunk driver around and I called ..."

The operator cut him off: "Where at?"

He answered: "Well, last time I saw him blowing through three red lights on Broadway heading north."

The conversation appears strained - the operator is trying to get specific information; Walters is trying to get across his urgency. He said he felt the operator only reluctantly talked to him. He had to prompt her to ask him for the truck's license plate number.

At the end, he declined to leave his name: "I don't need to do that. I just wanted to let you guys know. Thank you."
Bolding mine. And also:
"I wonder if you can advise on this and I'm going to send this over to Eastern District. Heading northbound on Broadway from 200 block there was a white pickup truck, Maryland tag, Tate Engineering on the back, electrical boxes, et cetera on the vehicle. Caller believes that the guy's intoxicated."

Officer (identified as Baker 10): "How old is the call?"

Dispatcher: "Um, three minutes, maybe, four minutes."

Officer: "Edward No."

The "Baker 10" identified the officer as a supervisor, and "Edward No" means he concluded the call to be unfounded.

The dispatcher didn't give the officer the license plate number, and it appears the officer closed the call without responding, given how quickly he concluded it was unfounded.
So. A spokesman is saying that these calls will be reviewed and investigated. And that's really good. But you know what would be awesome? If Meighan had been stopped before he killed Frankl.

Meighan has been called a "danger" to Baltimore's people, yet, he hasn't been charged with drunk driving or manslaughter. The police say they're reviewing the case thoroughly, so as not to make missteps, but I hope they get their shit together soon because each development in this horrible crime becomes increasingly disheartening.

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