Woman questions training of 911 dispatchers, says they told her to wake intruder who was sleeping in her Winnipeg home

A Winnipeg woman says she was shaken after waking up to find a stranger in her home and waiting twenty minutes for the police to arrive. She now questions that response time, and also why a 911 dispatcher suggested she might confront the intruder herself.

Angela Chalmers woke up to the sound of her dog Loki growling and barking at the top of her stairs shortly before 7am on June 18.

« I went downstairs to see why he was barking, and I went down half the stairs and there was a strange man lying right here on my couch, » Chalmers said.

« It was terrifying. »

Chalmers went upstairs and quietly alerted her roommate. The couple barricaded themselves in an upstairs room and called 911 while hiding in a closet, only to be told the police couldn’t come right away.

« They said the police were really busy and would we mind going downstairs and waking him up ourselves? » she says.

Chalmers cared. She and her roommate stayed upstairs until police arrived twenty minutes later and the couple ran downstairs and out of the house in the Earl Gray neighborhood.

It took four officers to get the man out of her home after he woke up and became aggressive, she said.

Incident under investigation: police

Police say the incident is being reviewed and the 911 dispatcher who spoke to Chalmers received feedback about the handling of the call, some of which deviated from standard practice, Kelly Dehn said, director of public affairs for the Winnipeg Police Service in an email. statement.

Dehn said response times may vary for any call depending on the time of day and available resources, as well as the urgency of the event, but said the call was properly sent in timely.

A police spokesperson also said they would generally advise callers not to approach anyone, which could put their safety at risk.

“A person would be advised to leave the building or residence until police arrive,” said Const. Claude Chancy in an email.

A screenshot on Chalmers’ phone shows the 911 call lasted 20 minutes before police arrived and the call was disconnected. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Chalmers says the responding officers apologized for the delay, but she fears things could have turned out very differently had she followed the 911 dispatcher’s suggestion.

« I wasn’t hurt, nothing was taken, it went well this time, but if I had been someone else…and followed the horrible recommendation of this 911 operator, it could have ended completely differently, » she said.

Violent home invasion 12 years ago

Chalmers said her instinct was to hide and protect herself and her roommate because she’s been through something like this before.

The 44-year-old was the victim of a violent home invasion in Vancouver 12 years ago. She says she was beaten and left for dead after two men broke into her apartment in a case of apparently mistaken identity.

« They thought they were stealing from the people who used to live there, » she said.

« When they realized I wasn’t the person they wanted to rob, I sat there and listened to them discuss what to do with me and they decided to kill me, because I had seen their faces. »

In this case, a neighbor heard the noise and called the police. Paramedics had to resuscitate her, she said.

She now lives with constant pain, fine motor difficulties and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She acknowledges that her past situation played a part in her fear that night, but says no one should have to wait 20 minutes for the police to arrive in a situation like that, and they certainly shouldn’t be invited to confront an intruder.

« The idea of ​​having a 911 operator tells me to deal with the person, which is why we have the police. »

She also wonders why a call about a man inside her house didn’t warrant a faster response.

« If we have to depend on the police, I would like to know that they will show up when I need them. »

Chalmers said she did not know who this man was or why he came to her house. She says nothing from the house was stolen and the door must have been accidentally left unlocked as there was no sign that he broke in.

Police said they determined there was no criminal intent in the incident and the intoxicated man was not charged at the owner’s request.

The incident left Chalmers shaken and unable to sleep.

« I check the locks twelve times a day, let alone at night. »

She hopes that by telling her story, changes can be made to how 911 dispatchers are trained to handle these types of calls.


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