April 12, 2011

Elgin 911 call directed to Indiana

Published Arpil 12, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Elgin police and a sheriff's office in Indiana are looking into a potential glitch that misdirected an Elgin 911 call early Tuesday to a dispatch center in Crown Point, Ind.

The call was made about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday by an Elgin man reporting that he heard what he believed to have been five or more shotgun blasts in the area of his southwest-side home.

But the call was picked up by a dispatcher with the Lake County, Ind., Sheriff's Office in Crown Point. She expressed surprise at receiving a call from Elgin, but told the caller that similar instances had occurred before, with 911 calls from Chicago's Illinois suburbs sometimes getting directed to the dispatch center in Crown Point. She did not know why this happens from time to time.
After they hung up, the resident tried dialing 911 again, and this time his call went through to Elgin police, to whom he reported the gunfire.

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said Tuesday afternoon that he has forwarded the issue to his communications director, acknowledging it is potentially serious.

“We are looking into this it,” Swoboda said, adding he had never heard of an instance in which a call was routed so far from its home jurisdiction.

“There are some spots (in Elgin) where if you call 911 it may get directed to (Kane County), but we're aware of that,” he said. “I've not heard of this before.”

Swoboda agreed the incident is serious – had the caller been reporting a medical emergency or a fire, for instance, it could have added minutes to the emergency responders' response time.

In Crown Point, Ind., Lake County Sheriff's Cmdr. Rob Arnold said this was the first time he'd ever heard of such an incident. Like Swoboda, he said it is a serious issue that should be investigated.

He also asked for an email detailing the timeline and a description of what transpired during the call.

“There are several people I want copy this to who need to be aware of this,” he said, adding that Indiana is under a mandate to consolidate some of its 911 centers, and the state's 911 commission also needs to be aware of issues such as this as it deliberates its next steps.