Dallas firefighters repeatedly seek police help with knife-wielding man
Dallas Fire Fighters Association President Jim McDade said the incident wasn’t the first time he’s heard firefighters complain of slow police response times
By Dana Branham
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — Dallas firefighters are unhappy that they had to repeatedly seek police help with a knife-wielding suspect before officers arrived at a Far North Dallas apartment Saturday night.
Firefighters say police were slow to assist with the call about a man accused of violating a protective order.
The call came in at 11:47 p.m. Saturday, police said. A woman told the dispatcher her husband was at her apartment, had lighter fluid and was burning items, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported.
Nearly 20 minutes later, police arrived at the Prestonwood Hillcrest Apartments on La Cosa Drive. By then, a knife-wielding suspect had chased firefighters and jumped into the fire engine, according to scanner audio obtained by WFAA.
Police said no first responders were injured in the incident.
Dallas Fire Fighters Association President Jim McDade told KXAS-TV (NBC5) that Saturday’s incident wasn’t the first time he’s heard firefighters complain of slow police response times.
“This is the reality we face today with the lack of police coverage,” McDade said. “We don’t have anybody who’s there for us to back us up in these situations.”
The Dallas Police Department is operating with fewer officers and that can mean officers are stretched too thin between too many calls, Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata told The Dallas Morning News last week.
The police union weighed in on Facebook, saying the slow response to the knife-wielding suspect was a result of “working shorthanded and doing more with less.”
McDade said unlike police, firefighters aren’t trained to handle dangerous suspects and the situation was harrowing.
“It was one of those runs where you think it’s going to be the last run you ever make,” McDade told NBC5.
Before the first police unit arrived at the apartment complex, a dispatcher had downgraded the call from a Priority 1 to a Priority 2, police said.
Priority 1 calls are the most urgent — they're typically for violent incidents in progress. Stabbings and shootings are typically classified Priority 1.
Dallas police said the department is reviewing why the call was downgraded.
"Both the Police and Fire Departments are investigating this incident to ensure proper procedures were followed," the Police Department said in a statement Monday night. "The Dallas Police Department strives to provide Service First to not only our community but also to our fellow first responders."
Minutes after the call was downgraded, the dispatch sergeant reclassified it as Priority 1, that change came just before the Dallas Fire-Rescue engine at the scene requested emergency assistance.
Three minutes later, at 11:58 p.m., firefighters asked again for emergency assistance from police, saying they were being chased by a man with a knife. At that time, firefighters also asked Richardson police to respond. The apartment was about 2 miles outside Richardson city limits.
Dallas police arrived at 12:04 a.m. and took the knife-wielding man into custody. Richardson police got there shortly thereafter.
The suspect, who has not been identified, is facing a family violence assault charge and another charge for assaulting EMS personnel. The man had not yet been booked into jail late Monday night, police said.
Copyright 2018 The Dallas Morning News