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Audio gives new insight into Denver’s 911-for-dignitaries debacle

It’s amazing what can ultimately be revealed from a third-rate burglary.  The story below is certainly no Watergate, but it’s amazing what can be learned about the Denver 911 system when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s office calls in a burglary to police — but no burglary apparently ever happened.

When Hancock’s office called Denver’s emergency dispatch center requesting a burglary investigation on October 31, 2013, they had no idea if anything had been taken, had no idea what time the crime had happened (if it had happened at all), nor who the suspect was other than possibly a handful of people who turned in their resignations.

Despite this lack of information and after the call to police lingered in the dispatch system for over an hour and a half, the Mayor’s office called a Deputy Denver Police Chief asking them to call dispatch in an attempt to see if the situation could be expedited. Denver Deputy Chief of Administration Mary Beth Klee took up the task, calling dispatch and giving clear verbal hints that calls from the Mayor’s office should be prioritized, but hedged those suggestions each time as well.

The entire incident from last October became the subject of a recent front page report from The Denver Post’s Christopher Osher, revealing that Denver had later instituted a policy of providing dignitaries a higher level of response from safety officials. Writes Osher:

Colorado’s governor, Denver’s mayor and other dignitaries receive a more robust Denver police response than the public under new rules recently adopted by the city’s 911 system.

The policy change, which went into effect at the end of December, requires Denver police dispatchers to notify a patrol supervisor when “Federal, State or Local Dignitaries (such as the Mayor or Governor) or personnel within their office requests or requires a police response on the dignitary’s behalf.

The public seemed to chafe after the Post report, and the Denver Department of Safety rescinded the new policy.

When Chief Klee called dispatch on October 31 to ask why the response time seemed to be taking so long, dispatch supervisor Natalie Heywood said, “I realize it’s the mayor, but [dispatchers] have weapons calls, and…” Chief Klee interrupted, saying, “I understand that, but let’s be realistic, OK?” Seconds later, Klee continued, “And I understand, I’m not trying to bump people, but it’s the Mayor, OK?”

Listen to the call from Chief Klee to dispatch:

The primary dispatcher involved that day, Traci Rhodes, was eventually fired, and is in the process of attempting to have the dismissal reversed. The Mayor’s office denied asking for the dismissal, according to the Post.

The audio presented in this report was shared with CompleteColorado.com after it was obtained by Rhodes in the legal process of disputing her dismissal and also through open records requests filed by Rhodes.

Listen to the call from the Mayor’s office to ask for an officer to investigate a possible burglary:

CompleteColorado.com previously reported that after an officer did arrive and assess the situation at the Mayor’s office, no report was filed or taken.

Send us tips at CompleteColorado@gmail.com.

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