Washington DC

Auditor Blasts DC 911 Center in New Status Report

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A new status report by D.C.’s auditor says the city’s 911 system is not in compliance with a number of recommended improvements and city leaders seem to be ignoring the problems.

The report released Thursday is a second follow up to a full audit issued in 2021 and notes the 911 center is still not meeting national standards.

It also says of the 31 recommendations made, only seven have been completed. Seventeen have shown partial progress, and the seven others show minimal progress.

Transparency is an ongoing issue. The report cites three emergency calls that ended in death.

In a call for help on Oct. 10, the caller said their roommate was on the floor and they could not pick him up off the floor. The call taker asked if the roommate was conscious, and the caller said he was but wasn’t responding.

The call was classified as a lift assist, but the man was in cardiac arrest and later died.

“It really underscores the importance of the audit originally, the importance of addressing the really deep dysfunction at this agency that I don’t think the administration is, one, is either not aware of or is simply refusing to acknowledge, and I don’t know which it is,” D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson said.

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In her report, Patterson also pointed out major mistakes made in the deaths of two infants last July and August and the agency’s lack of transparency.

She says their after-action reporting is negligible and that it’s going to take leadership to turn the ship around.

“This agency needs to rebuild the public’s trust, and you cannot rebuild trust on a foundation of misinformation and misleading,” she said. “You just can’t.”

“Since the delivery of the second report in September 2022, we have made great strides to implement the recommendations; however, I simultaneously acknowledge there is still work to be done,” the Office of Unified Communications said in an 11-page letter to Patterson. “To date, 23 of the 30 (or 76% of the total) recommendations are complete.”

Last month, Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Heather McGaffin to take over as acting director for the 911 call agency after her initial choice – Karima Holmes – did not get the support of the D.C. Council.

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