For the second time this year, the Dane County 911 Center neglected to dispatch police officers in a timely manner before a homicide at Lake Edge Park Nov. 3.
According to a statement released by the Dane County Public Safety Communications, two noise complaint phone calls were received on the Public Safety Communication’s non-emergency line at 9:18 p.m. and 9:34 p.m.
Police were not sent to the scene until approximately 11 p.m. after receiving an emergency call from a cell phone reporting a dead body. The body was identified as Mark Gregory Johnson, 37, of Madison.
“The call was called at a non-emergency number but … the 911 Center did pick up the telephone and process the call, but they didn’t follow the procedures as they should have,” said Ald. Larry Palm, District 15.
Last spring, the 911 Center was under fire for the mishandling of a phone call from University of Wisconsin junior Brittany Zimmermann’s phone on the day of her murder in her apartment at 517 W. Doty St.
In September, then-911 Center Director Joe Norwick resigned from his position, and the center is still seeking a full-time replacement.
Palm said there were an ample number of officers on duty the evening of Nov. 3 when the calls were received indicating excessive noise and escalating violence.
During both noise complaint calls, the 911 dispatcher agreed to send police to the scene of the incident.
“The irony is that the new policy adapted by the 911 Board wasn’t followed,” Palm said. “The first call is logged, and (after) the second call, police are dispatched. It is ironic that for both phone calls, the police said they would respond.”
According to an audio release of the phone calls received by the 911 Center regarding the incident, “loud, obnoxious” noises were heard in the park. A female and two males were identified.
Josh Wescott, spokesperson for Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, said some calls do not result in automatic dispatch.
“Calls are prioritized by the dispatcher based on important components and the availability of officers,” Wescott said, adding not all cases are responded to.
Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said he was unable to comment on the 911 calls until the department fully reviews the situation.
“Lake Edge Park is part of a new Park Watch program,” DeSpain said. “Through the MPD — in conjunction with the Madison Park Department — citizens are trained to issue a phone call when they see things in the park that may need attention.”
DeSpain said there is still an internal investigation of the 911 Center.
“Clearly, the management understands the incredible pressure at this moment,” Palm said. “They have clearly not been able to reform underlying issues.”