Following a week plagued by violent crime, including the separate murders of runner David Stevens and teenager Zoe Hastings Monday, a letter from Lake Highlands resident Jeffory Marker voices concerns, expressed by many residents of the White Rock area, about police response times.
Marker sent the following letter to us as well as Mayor Mike Rawlings, District 10 councilman Adam McGough, Dallas’ Chief of Police David Brown and the Northeast Patrol Deputy Chief Andrew Acord via email yesterday, he says, and has not yet received a response. We also have asked the police to comment on issues raised in Marker’s letter. We did not receive an immediate response from police, and we are still working on getting 911 records, but when we have more, I will update.
From Jeffory Marker:
I like to work chronologically so first, a little bit about myself and my family. I moved to Dallas in the early nineties. My first apartment was in the Oak Lawn Area. In the late nineties, I bought my first house in the Forest/Greenville Avenue area. Married my wife Lana in the early 2000s and moved into Preston Hollow. Our son was born in 2005, so we picked Lake Highlands to be our new home in 2007. Always living in the city, we believe in the core of urban areas. Living close to vibrant neighborhoods, great restaurants and enlightening museums. We love Dallas.
As with most love, it is not perfect. We make certain sacrifices to live in the city. The streets are a mess. The divide between the haves and the have nots is evident daily. We moved specifically into Lake Highlands to be away from DISD and into Richardson schools. The sacrifices have always been outweighed by the positives and the love of the city. That is now reaching a tipping point.
The occurrences last Monday, October 12th in our Lake Highlands have been jarring to our community. Just steps away from our neighborhood park a jogger was savagely murdered. The same morning, my son’s art teacher’s daughter was found dead in her family car. These events are shocking to my community. What makes it worse is that it appears the city had an opportunity to prevent these crimes and failed.
It has now become public that both incidents had 911 calls alerting the police to the missing girl and to the suspect on the White Rock Trail. These calls occurred anywhere from thirty minutes to hours prior to the actual incidences. Those are now documented and I will let the press continue to follow those. I want to relate to you my own incident that same day. Due to the school holiday, my wife along with other parents were teaching almost 30 kids in an extracurricular club in a neighborhood house. She had been alerted by a police officer who lives in our neighborhood what was already in the press. He recommended that the kids be driven home and that no one should be walking on the streets until both incidents had been fully investigated.
After ensuring all of the kids were home, she returned to our house. What she found there was a rolling gate half open with access to our back yard, broken wood from our fence on the ground, an injured dog, an open garage door and open door to our house. She immediately called me at my office in Irving and called 911 at 1:58pm.
I immediately jumped in my car and raced to my house. In the twenty minutes it took me to get there I was fully expecting to see at least two Dallas police cars out in front of my house. When I arrived, instead of seeing that, I saw my wife sitting in her car in front of the house, engine running with no police presence. Had they arrived and left? No they had not.
Despite my wife’s concerns, I decided to investigate the house prior to the police arriving. It had been thirty minutes now since she called 911. In the end, it was a serious of unfortunate incidents and coincidences that were not a result of any criminal activity but that is not the point. We had evidence of criminal activity at our house on a day when two murders occurred in our neighborhood and police had still not arrived.
The time of the call to 911 was 1:58pm. A police officer arrived at our house at 4:28pm. For my wife, for my son, for my neighborhood, for my city, for its families, this is wholly unacceptable.
My wife contacted the Northeast substation regarding the response time. This was the response to her from Lt. Sundquist. He stated that the call was issued as a Tier 3 call. The 911 operator was unaware of the crimes that occurred that day, so it was not made a high priority call. It was given to an officer that responded in 7 minutes from the time he was dispatched.
Do you see the disconnect here? The Dallas police department says they arrived 7 minutes after the call was dispatched; we waited two and a half hours. Two murders occurred in the same area of town and 911 did not know what was going on. One appears to be a lie or a “management of data,” the other appears to be a huge communication error. This is wholly unacceptable.
Our experience combined with the news of 911 calls in the two murders is of utmost concern not only for my family but for my entire community. There may have been opportunities to avoid these tragedies had the 911 calls been handled with the diligence and care that they deserved. I don’t know why there were delays in dispatching these critical calls and I don’t pretend to know the answers. I leave that to the officials I have elected to represent me and the management of the city and the Dallas Police Department who my taxes employ. It is not only incumbent, it is critical to the city of Dallas that you solve these problems.
I am now having adult conversations with my ten year old son about the value of life, good and evil, security and safety. His question to me was “are we safe in my house?” For the first time I didn’t have an honest answer for him. Please do your jobs and solve these issues so that I can tell him, “yes, you are safe.”
Jeffory and Lana Marker