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911 Call Sent to Voicemail During Violent Home Invasion

Friday, June 20, 2014

An oft-repeated adage holds, “when seconds count, police are only minutes away.”  This isn’t a slight against the men and women of law enforcement, but they can’t be everywhere at once, and too often the damage is done when help finally arrives.  A recent story out of Port Richey, Fla., demonstrates this point with unusual clarity.

A Port Richey resident was at home with his wife, infant and stepmother, when four armed intruders entered the premises.  According to an account the wife provided to WFTS-TV, the home invaders beat the man, pistol-whipped the wife, and threatened to shoot the baby.  The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, according to WTSP-TV, were investigating the incident as a home invasion robbery targeting prescription drugs and cash.  As the incident unfolded, the husband managed to retrieve a shotgun and fire at the intruders, striking one and causing the rest to flee.

The resident also called 911 for police assistance.  According to WFLA-TV, upon reaching a dispatcher, the resident was transferred to a voicemail recording that advised, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911.  Thank you for calling the Pasco County Sheriff's Office non-emergency number.”  Eventually, the dispatcher was able to correct the problem and connect the resident with police.

Additionally, WTVT-TV reported that “deputies were dispatched more than three and a half minutes after the original call.”  While the county insisted “the transfer problems didn't slow down their response,” a sheriff’s office spokesperson told a reporter, “the situation that happened will not happen again.”

Whether or not the dispatch problems prolonged the Sheriff Department’s response time, this episode illustrates why so many choose to provide for their own protection by exercising their right to keep and bear arms, rather than betting their lives solely on help from the police.  Detroit Chief of Police James E. Craig summed it up well when he stated, “Realistically police officers, I don't care what city in America, cannot be on at every corner at every moment of the day.  And when an individual, a community member, is faced with a threat, they sometimes have to react to that threat.”  No doubt the Port Richey, Fla. resident and his family would agree.

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