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911 calls in focus at MSD Safety Commission hearings

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911 calls in focus at MSD Safety Commission hearings (WPEC)

The day the gunman walked the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, killing and maiming innocent victims, scared people dialed 9-1-1 desperate for help.

Many of the calls went to the Coral Springs emergency line, but where the calls went from there— that’s a mess.

And it’s something the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission is going over with a fine tooth comb.

Coral Springs officials say they are still going over that too. The fire chief and a deputy police chief were grilled by the commission about the issue.

When they left the podium, CBS 12 News pressed them some more.

“The numbers from my understanding— of those 9–1-1 calls, they were under 100, I think it would be premature for me to comment on that,” said Coral Springs Deputy Police Chief Shawn Backer.

Backer faced the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas public safety commission and tried to explain how, on the day of the school shooting, some 9-1-1 calls got transferred to the sheriff's office, some may not have been transferred.

The reason it’s critical to understand how everything unfolded is because intel from inside the school could have helped officers and deputies in real time and helped them to know where the killer was.

“The ability to communicate and share information is vital in preventing these things from happening, and it’s vital in responding to these events to save lives,” said Ryan Petty.

Petty is one of the safety commissioners. His daughter Alaina was one of the 17 killed. He says if he wasn’t serving on this panel, if his daughter were still alive, he’d be taking a trip with her to Nevada.

“So we would’ve been spending time with friends and family this summer, but obviously everything changed,” Petty said.

Another issue that arose during Wednesday’s hearing was how Coral Springs police and fire have resisted getting into the same 9-1-1 dispatch system as the rest of the county.

Coral Springs gets incoming calls from Parkland — and the chiefs used the term ‘hometown feel’— they also talked about how useful it is when dispatchers know the layout of streets and local geography.

But some commissioners blasted the chiefs for that comment. They say the failures on Valentine's Day illustrate the system is stuck in the past.

Another victim's father, who also serves on the safety Commission, Max Schachter was the most outraged by the lack of answers and urgency. He asked the deputy chief to sit down with him again in a few days to go over this in more detail and include the sheriff's office. The deputy chief agreed.

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