Monday, December 24, 2007

Sheriff Dispatchers Need Retraining?

Dispatcher Fails To Relay Correct Directions To Deputy

LABELLE, FL. -- Ever wonder why it may take a Hendry deputy, EMS, or the fire department longer than you imagine to come to a location for assistance?  The problem may lie in ill trained dispatchers who are not relaying simple but critical address directions to the the road officers, EMS and fire personnel.

In what may be an ongoing problem, Hendry County Sheriff dispatchers seemingly do not relay complete directions from citizen complaint calls.  Monday afternoon, a brush fire was spotted in the field behind the Port LaBelle Inn and the Sheriff's dispatcher was notified that the specific location was the "northwest corner of Birchwood and State Road 80."  The fire location was additionally described to the dispatcher as the "old golf course" behind the Port LaBelle Inn.

A man and child passenger was reported illegally driving a four-wheel ATV in the field, catching the grass on fire. The man was seen taking his shirt off and beating the fire out. 

Fortunately the fire was put out by the ATV driver, but unfortunately the Sheriff's dispatcher did not relay the correct direction on Birchwood  so the hapless deputy was searching a mile south of the actual location.

Incidents like this happen routinely, as can be heard on a scanning radio tuned to the Sheriff's dispatch frequency, where emergency personnel can't find the location because dispatcher's don't give complete information, but  instead apparently summarize complainant's direction leaving out critical  directional information.


  1. Anonymous10:16 PM

    Also add in deputies that are not familiar with their patrol area. I heard the call that you made reference to. I have heard dispatchers tell deputy the correct address 3 or more times and the deputy still went to the wrong location. We are always short patrol deputies unless 49-1 needs a funeral escorted.

  2. Anonymous1:39 AM

    Your article sounds very uninformed and has a few obvious errors. First the area behind the old golf course is in Glades County. Secondly, it is not illegal to ride atv's on private property unless one is trespassing. Thirdly, if the complaint was due to a grass fire why was a deputy sent? And if a small grass fire is extinguished at time of arrival and no one is there to point it out, then finding a few feet of scorched grass on a pasture would be equavilent to finding a needle in a haystack. You yourself stated you heard this call on your scanner, did you hear the location that the caller gave to the dispatcher on the phone as well? You also failed to mention the location that the dispatch gave to the deputy that was suppose to be incorrect. Was any of this verified with the Sheriff's Office? As a journalist I would expect for your article to be more complete.

  3. In reply to Anonymous #2:
    The area in question is in Hendry county as it was south of the hotel. Riding an ATV on private property without permission is trespassing, the individual did not have permission from the out of state property owner. Thirdly, the fire was put out by the ATV driver beating the fire with his shirt and the dispatcher was notified of this so a deputy only was sent out. And lastly, the complainant waited at the location for a deputy so as to point out the incident and driver. As the editor and writer of the story, all facts were verified and I have personal knowlege of all that happened during the incident and the call to the dispatcher. I also talked with the duty Sergeant after the deputy did not show up