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911 calls from Feb. 5 Powell tragedy

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Feb. 8, 2012 at 9:40 am with 11 Comments »
February 8, 2012 1:12 pm

On Tuesday, authorities released recordings of 911 calls concerning the Feb. 5 fire that killed Josh Powell and his two young sons. Here are excerpts of the audio files. Warning: material is unedited and may be upsetting.

Read full story.

Initial 911 call from case worker supervising visit of Powell brothers to their father’s home, reporting that she had been locked out:

Follow-up call from case worker reporting fire:

911 call from Alina Powell, Josh Powell’s sister:

“He sent several emails saying stuff about how to handle his property, how to cancel utilities, I don’t know … They were desperate emails.”

Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. dinocrusher says:

    I don’t think the public needs this audio to know the sorrow and pain that the social worker went through and is going through.

  2. straycat says:

    During the call from the sister.. about half way through, the dispatcher realized the sister was talking about Josh Powell….you could hear it in her voice. Such a tragic event for all. As a 911 dispatcher, you tend to get caught up in the emotion of the call, but you have to stay strong for the people you are talking to. Some days are harder than others.

  3. ginahopk says:

    It seems like the 911 caller talking to cps lady wasted a lot of precious time asking questions when she was trying to get help for the children

  4. Jupiter25 says:

    The dispatcher has a list of questions to ask and has to follow that list. While some of the questions may seem to be unimportant, they might be needed by first responders when they arrive at a scene. Also, although there may be many questions, the dispatcher can be sending out the information to sheriff and fire even while talking. 20/20 is great, so don’t be too quick to condemn the dispatcher.

  5. Why is there no time line?

  6. David1964 says:

    There were 4 dispatchers that we heard here, and not one of them was dismissive or rude. They were doing their jobs of obtaining information, as they’ve been trained.

  7. BP31650 says:

    By the time Alina called, it was too late. The 911 dispatcher knew the address & his name already but she couldn’t tell anyone, even family, what had occurred firsthand. I have a problem with the first guy .. I don’t care about all the excuses made for him – they are clearly all trying to avoid lawsuits and rightfully so. Notice how Alina says her brother has been abused 3 times. He sure had part of his family brainwashed & his dad is as sick as he was.

  8. We have gone thru this type of thing with the 911 dispatch out of Tacoma. They make the decision if it is something that they should send an officer out to investigate. It’s awful when you pay taxes and are in need of an officer and you can’t get one. This is such an awful thing to have happen. I really believe that the dispatcher should be investigated and change some of their policies. We had a burgerly in process and it took an 1 hour to get someone there. We had another time that someone was on our property with a knive in hand within a rod iron fence and we could not get any to dispatch officers. We had a 3rd incident where someone was intoxiated and drove his car into one of the round de rounds and was hurt. Car was totally and it took 30 minutes to have an officer dispatched. I had to call back 3 times because he was injuried and the dispatch said it wasn’t important enough even when the guy was bleeding.

  9. supporter says:

    Jilly – At least some of the media is starting to call her a “case worker” instead of a “social worker”. All of your points well taken. It was not her fault, and Josh would have killed the boys no matter what but my point is (and you seem to be the only other person who sees it) _ is that the CPS system is deceiving people by giving the public the allusion that they are receiving “social work” “skilled supervision” “skilled parenting classes” “skilled counseling” – which is what they SHOULD be providing. But what they are actually getting is some unskilled help by someone that is underpaid, overworked, and undertrained. My point to the state and CPS is, if you can’t do it right , don;t do it at all. You are absolutely right, Griffin-Hall talked to the 9-1-1 operator as if he was her work supervisor not a crisis operator.
    Dang, I know money is tight but you wouldn’t go to Jiffy Lube, pay for an oil change and be happy about getting a quart short of used motor oil in your car and calling it good because “times are tough and money is short” You would expect not to be lied to so you could change your own *** oil.

  10. I had the privilege of being led thru the initial hiring process for LESA comms officer and dispatcher positions last Fall by Dave Lovrak. It was my 4th or so attempt to be hired at LESA. I was number 2 and 3 respectively on the eligibility list. I did not make it past the first interview with 3 hiring managers (who didn’t include Dave Lovrak). I am still disappointed but have put it down to fate or my failure to make a good impression with the hiring supervisors.

    I only mention this to point out that I have no reason to support Dave Lovrak. I have no personal or professional relationship with him.
    But in the course of leading the shortlist of 25 candidates thru the orientation at the Comms Center, and in order to make us think long and hard about whether this was a career we were able to commit to, he relayed a personal story of one of his most difficult calls.

    I remember being astounded that Officer Lovrak, years after he took a very complex and difficult call, was still grieving the fact that he was not able to save the life of someone who was hellbent on killing himself.
    This was someone that most of us would consider better off dead; a monster; a defiler of his own children.
    Yet here was an officer in our community, who didn’t feel it was his position to judge. Who believed to his core that it was his sacred duty to save life – any life, without prejudging the situation, or standing in judgment over whether it was best all round that this person just go ahead and save us all the expense of a trial and prison etc. etc.
    I would not want to second guess or prejudge the handling of the call. I do believe however, that it would be a compounded tragedy upon our community if the fallout from this is that a veteran, caring, and nonjudgmental Comms. Officer, who has dedicated his life to serving our community, loses his career over this – which at its most basic was the inability to stop a monster from the innocent lives of his two babies.

  11. supporter says:

    I’m sorry but I just have to wonder if he needed a day off that day, or if the stress of the job had made him “burn out” and become callous. Compare him to this other 9-1-1 operator. She is calm and professional throughout.
    “I’ve got two guns in my hand — is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?” the young mother asked the 911 dispatcher. “I’m here by myself with my infant baby, can I please get a dispatcher out here immediately?”

    The 911 dispatcher confirmed with McKinley that the doors to her home were locked as she asked again if it was okay to shoot the intruder if he were to come through her door.

    “I can’t tell you that you can do that but you do what you have to do to protect your baby,” the dispatcher told her. McKinley was on the phone with 911 for a total of 21 minutes.

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