Dispatchers: 9-1-1 caller didn't give enough information for urgent response

PORTLAND, Ore. - A spokeswoman for emergency dispatchers said they could have done a better job responding to a call about a suspicious person in Portland Thursday night, but the caller did not provide enough information for them to consider the call urgent.

Matt Schneider of Southeast Portland felt a 9-1-1 operator didn't do enough to help out when he called about a suspicious person he spotted outside his home.

Schneider said he got a little worried when he came home Thursday night and noticed his screen doors were slid open. Then he saw a man asleep in a Jeep at the bottom of his driveway. He called 9-1-1, believing that the man in the Jeep was perhaps burglarizing houses in the neighborhood. He said he was told to call the non-emergency number instead.

Schneider decided to take a look at his home security camera and saw that he was right - there was a man, a different person than the one he had seen in the Jeep, on his property. So he called 9-1-1 again.

"And then I heard them (the guys in the Jeep) pulling out, so I got in my car to follow them a bit and they kept going up the road, stopping at every house," he said.

Schneider said the cops came close to nabbing the two, but in the end they lost the Jeep.

He was frustrated that the 9-1-1 operator didn't send someone out the first time he called.

Bureau of Emergency Communications spokeswoman Kristine DeVore said police didn't rush to the neighborhood because dispatchers considered it a "cold burglary."

"In this circumstance, or in a circumstance where someone is possibly in danger, that's what we need to know first. Are you in immediate danger? If you're not, that takes it down a notch," said DeVore.

Dispatchers categorized Schneider's call as "cold" because they said he didn't tell them about the security video.

"He should have told us that he had it on camera," said DeVore. "That someone had actually come up to his property. He should have given us information that he saw more than one person."

DeVore said Schneider didn't say enough for the crime to seem immediate, but she admitted dispatchers could have done a better job to get details.

"We can always improve. Always. The urgency from this gentleman's voice, from listening to it now in the call, I think we could have asked him more questions," DeVore said. "People often forget when they call us in a stressful time. Details are missed."