Dispatch center issues blamed on one employee

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Consolidated dispatch officials said Wednesday afternoon that a burglary call in which police never arrived could be traced back to one employee.

Officials did not name the employee, but did say the person is no longer on active duty. They did not say whether she was fired, suspended, or if she resigned.

The investigation into the dispatch center began after a Mount Pleasant man, made two calls to 911 to report a burglary in progress. No one ever came to investigate the crimes, though.

Authorities said the failed dispatch came from human error with one of their own dispatchers.

On Aug. 25, Dale Lewis said he called 911 after he saw four burglars lurking around his neighbor's home. They left, he said, but then returned 30 minutes later.

Lewis again called 911, but police never showed up at the Mount Pleasant home. Officials with the dispatch center said Lewis' complaint is one of several they have received.{}

"There's no reason for anyone to doubt the quality of work coming out of our consolidated dispatch center.{} We've been very pleased with the job that they do for us and believe that that the public can have full confidence in them," said Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

Lucas said they are taking the complaints seriously and will investigate each one.

"We think this was one employee who made some mistakes, and we're looking at how those mistakes came about and how far reaching the mistakes are," said Lucas.

Earlier Wednesday morning, officials with the sheriff's office announced they were investigating the handling of calls by the dispatch center at the request of Charleston County Government. According to a report, calls to the dispatch center were being improperly logged and handled.

The county released a statement on the investigation.

"It is important to address all citizen concerns, and the County takes these situations very seriously. We appreciate the public bringing this matter to our attention, and have asked the Sheriff's Office to look into it so we can take any necessary actions," said Shawn Smetana, Charleston County's Media Relations Coordinator.

Officials said Wednesday they wanted to reassure the public that they take safety seriously. There is no word on when the investigation will be completed, but it is expected to take several weeks. Officials say the investigation will examine calls made from July 1st through the end of August.

Authorities say on average, the 9-1-1 center takes about 2,200 calls per day.