A Communications Officer at the Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA) has been attacked in the media for his handling of the 911 call preceding Josh Powell’s tragic murder of his two sons.
Criticism of the Officer is unfair and unjustified. In hindsight, it is easy to second guess a 911 interview in the wake of a terrible tragedy; it is quite another thing to be able to predict when a life-threatening emergency might occur.
Communications Officers at LESA take hundreds of calls daily and must rely on often incomplete, disjointed information to distinguish between a real emergency and a non-critical call.
In this terrible case, Josh Powell alone is responsible for the death of his two sons – no one else.
Teamsters Local 117’s Tracey A. Thompson has published letters in the Tacoma News Tribune and the Seattle Times to set the record straight.
The letter to the TNT can be read in its entirety here:
February 10, 2012
The Tacoma News Tribune does a grave disservice to all employees of the Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA) in suggesting that a Communications Officer inappropriately handled the call that preceded Josh Powell’s tragic murder of his two sons (Powell 911 call takers criticized for behavior – 2/8/12). To criticize the Officer’s tone as rude, impatient, and abrupt, shows a complete lack of understanding of the job. Communications Officers at LESA are trained professionals who answer hundreds of calls daily and must extract critical details that can be crucial in protecting community members and law enforcement responders.
Over the last three years, Communications Officers at LESA have taken calls involving a number of high-profile tragedies, including the murder of four Lakewood police officers in 2010, the murder of a Deputy and shooting of a Sergeant from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and the murder of a Park Ranger in Mt. Rainer National Park on New Year’s Day. Without exception, they have performed their duties valiantly, compassionately, with integrity and the utmost professionalism, in highly-stressful emergency situations. Before leveling unwarranted criticism, it is important to understand the true nature of the work and the outstanding service these men and women provide to keep our communities safe.
Tracey A. Thompson
Teamsters Local 117