Cry for help: If a woman calls 911, shouldn't police talk to her?

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The only thing worse than a heinous crime is the possibility that it might have been prevented.

That's why it's so important that the Pittsburgh Police Bureau thoroughly investigates and makes available to the public all of the information regarding the death of Ka'Sandra Wade.

The body of Ms. Wade, 33, was discovered on the evening of Jan. 1 in her Larimer home. She had been shot, and her boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, confessed to the killing before taking his life the following day. Key questions that remain unanswered, though, deal with earlier events, on New Year's Eve.

That's when Ms. Wade called police and asked for officers to come to her home on Lowell Street. She was calm at first but there was some commotion on the line before it abruptly was disconnected. The two officers who went to the house knew what transpired during the call, but they left after speaking with a man -- later identified as Brown -- through a window.

What was said has not been disclosed, and it is not known whether the officers discussed the situation with supervisors before departing. Also unknown is what procedures city police officers are supposed to follow when responding to a call of "unknown trouble" such as the one from Ms. Wade. Although it was not registered as an allegation of domestic violence, the mere fact that a woman called for police and a man at the residence would not allow them to enter may have, and certainly should have, raised suspicions on the part of the authorities.

Common sense would suggest that police be obliged to talk with whoever places a call for assistance. In this case, that would have meant that speaking simply with Brown would not have been sufficient.

The public needs to know how such cases are supposed to be handled and, if procedures were not followed in this instance, they need to know why not. If the policies were met, they should be re-evaluated.

The primary intention is not to assign blame but to understand what happened and what improvements can be made. That way Pittsburgh residents can be assured that all reasonable measures are being taken by police to ensure their safety.

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