Dupo Police Chief Kevin Smith blames a dispatching disconnect with St. Clair County for an incident this summer that prompted an investigative report from a TV news station.
Rose and Joe Everett called 911 multiple times one night in July to report a shirtless male stranger ransacking their garage.
Emergency calls made in Dupo and throughout St. Clair County are dispatched by CENCOM, which operates answering points in East St. Louis and Belleville.
At the time of the first call, Smith said his two on-duty officers were handling a call involving a deceased male in the back seat of an Uber vehicle.
“Both officers were assisting EMS and waiting for (an Illinois State Police crime scene unit) on that call,” Smith said.
Rose Everett told the dispatcher there was a male subject in her yard possibly trying to get into her garage, Smith said.
“The dispatcher called Dupo on the radio and when they answered they were told there was a call for a suspicious male walking down the road,” Smith said, adding that reference was also made to an earlier incident involving a similar subject nearby on Oklahoma Hill Road in St. Clair County’s police venue.
“Dupo officers asked if county was en route and they stated ‘no, they were busy,’” Smith explained. “Dupo officers said they would respond when available.”
The Everetts called 911 four total times and dispatch never relayed any new information to the officers that this was a burglary in progress, Smith said.
East Carondelet police eventually found the man and gave him a courtesy ride to a MetroLink station, unaware he was the subject involved in the Dupo burglary.
“Due to officers not knowing this was a burglary and only had the information from dispatch that it was a suspicious person, they never followed up with the victim,” Smith told the Republic-Times. “My officer should have followed up regardless, but this whole thing lies on the dispatcher.”
In the story that aired Oct. 1 on KMOV, Smith apologized to the Everetts.
“I would like the Everetts to know that I feel terrible about what happened and when they call 911 they should expect a police officer to show up in a relatively quick manner,” Smith told KMOV.
The suspect, 33-year-old Jacob M. Anderson, was subsequently charged in St. Clair County Circuit Court with felony burglary for the incident.
Smith said he has met with St. Clair County 911 Emergency Telephone Board Executive Director Herb Simmons and his assistants along with Dupo’s police board and the victims in this case.
“Simmons stated it is not the responsibility of the dispatcher to give any further information once the call is answered by a officer,” Smith said. “In this case, I feel the dispatcher did not relay the pertinent information and the dispatcher should have given updates. They did not.”
Smith contends that had his officers known it was a burglary, they would have requested neighboring Columbia police to assist until the death call was cleared.
“We have had several issues with dispatch in the past since switching from Cahokia to CENCOM,” Smith added.
Smith said that since he became police chief in 2017, he has attempted to switch to having Columbia dispatch calls for Dupo.
“(Columbia Police) Chief Jerry Paul and I worked together on this but was eventually shut down by Herb Simmons,” Smith said. “I feel that the citizens of Dupo would be better served by the Columbia Police Department dispatch than CENCOM.”