Spokane County 911 admits mistake in Starbuck call


by KREM.com


Posted on February 8, 2012 at 6:05 PM

DEER PARK -- Officials announced Wednesday that the 911 call made by Chanin Starbuck was not forwarded to the Spokane County Sherrif's Office for investigation.

Detectives believe that Chanin Starbuck called 911 from her cell phone when her husband Clay was attacking her.

The morning of December 1st, 911 was called from Chanin’s cell phone.  Through search warrant documents, detectives describe the call as a “short, high pitched guttural sound of a female, followed by rustling noise consistent with struggle.”

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has asked 911 Director Lorlee Mizell to review that agency’s hang up phone call procedures in the wake of this week’s discovery.

Spokane County 911 is a separate organization and is the link between citizens who need help, the Sheriff’s Office and other public safety agencies throughout the county. 

In December 2011, Deer Park resident Chanin Starbuck was murdered in her home.  She made a 911 call that should have been forwarded to the sheriff’s dispatch, but was not.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office says the detective reviewing the 911 call determined that there was a short high-pitched guttural sound of a female followed by rustling noise consistent with a struggle in the three seconds before the 911 call taker answered the phone, “911…

911 protocols dictates that call takers make two attempts to call back cell phones from which hang up calls were received.  In Starbuck’s instance, only a single call was tried and the hang up call was never forwarded to sheriff’s dispatch.

Wednesday, Knezovich said that he wants Mizell’s review to include all areas to ensure critical information is provided to law enforcement and other emergency service agencies.

 “911’s responsibility to provide this critical information is a vital link to ensuring a safer Spokane community,” he said.

The following is a release from Spokane County Sheriff's Office:

Investigation into the December homicide of a Deer Park woman has revealed that a call to the 911 communications center from the victim’s cellular phone was not forwarded to the sheriff’s office for investigation.

The break in protocol was made by a long-term 911 call taker.  Hang-up calls into the 911 center fall into two categories.  A Phase One call gives the cellular phone number and the cellular tower location.  A Phase Two call gives the number plus the latitude and longitude of the cellular phone.

Chanin Starbuck’s call fell into the Phase Two category and should have been followed up by the call taker making two phone call attempts back to her cell phone.  In this instance, only a single call was attempted and the 911 call was never forwarded to sheriff’s dispatch.

“We learned of the mistake while making evidentiary recordings for major crimes detectives,” said 911 Director Lorlee Mizell Wednesday.  “We addressed it with the call taker December 27th. 

Mizell said that corrective action would not stop there.  All call takers and supervisors will begin receiving a formal “hang up call” refresher on Monday, and it will be addressed again at an upcoming supervisors meeting.  A third session to cover hang up calls will be held at the next monthly training meeting, she said.

The 911 center received more than 1,700 hang up calls in January.  About 900 were Phase One calls and another 280 were Phase Two.  The remaining hang up calls were tracked to the caller’s cell phone and were resolved.

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