Denver 911 Response Investigated After 13-Minute Called Ends in Murder

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 04:05 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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An investigation has been launched into the response of Denver police and 911 procedures after a 13-minute emergency call ended in the murder of the woman calling for help.

On Wednesday, Kristine Kirk, 44, told a 911 dispatcher that her husband was hallucinating and his behavior was frightening her three children. She also said there was a gun in the house in a safe, and later in the call said her husband had gotten the gun. She then screamed, and a gunshot was the last thing dispatchers heard, The Associated Press reported.

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The 911 record has not been released because the investigation is ongoing.

Kirk's husband Richard Kirk has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her death.

"Any time a person dies while communicating with Denver's emergency services we examine the circumstances to ensure that the incident was handled properly and we look for areas to improve upon," Sonny Jackson, a department spokesman, said in a statement reported by the AP.

Officials will be examining officer response time to the Kirk residence and also how the prioritization of her call was handled by dispatchers. Denver police have been criticized for slow response times, which have been blamed on low staffing and budget cuts.

The auditor's office is also compiling a report about the situation.

In November 2013, The Denver Post reported that police response times during 2012 had increased despite an 11 percent decrease in the number of calls.

"The basic problem is that there are a higher number of calls than there are officers who can handle them. It's a simple supply and demand equation," Lt. Vincent Gavito, vice president of the police union, told the Post. "If you're truly a victim, why should you have to sit around and wait one or two hours for an officer to come? It's like you're victimized twice."

Police department officials told the Post that response times would get better because new recruits from recent graduating classes would be added to the department.

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