A statement released at a Madison Police Department press conference Thursday afternoon confirmed that a call was made from Brittany Zimmermann's phone to 911 on April 2, 2008, the day she was killed in her Doty St. apartment. MPD Chief Noble Wray emphasized the homicide investigation currently requires nondisclosure of the content and time of the phone call.
While not revealing the contents of the original call from Zimmermann's phone to 911, the statement reads, in part:
It would be accurate to state that there is evidence contained in the call which should have resulted in a Madison Police officer being dispatched. That would have been consistent with both Madison Police Department policy and national 911 standards. The 911 center did not call back to the telephone number, MPD was not notified of the call, and no officer was sent.
Shortly after the homicide, Madison Police Department Chief Noble Wray recommended that the Dane County 911 Center conduct an internal investigation into what happened with this 911 call.
Although the statement indicates there is evidence an officer should have been dispatched, Wray refused to discuss whether the evidence suggests the call was a call for help, and said he would not "get into classifying the call at this point in time."
The Madison Police Department is also releasing a memo dated January 24, 2007 that announces the 911 Communications Center's ability to receive subscriber name, phone number and location from where a cellular call is made to 911. The release outlines policy that was questioned at a press conference held by 911 center director Joe Norwick Thursday morning. It notes:
1. When a 911 hang-up call is received by the 911 Communications Center, the dispatcher shall attempt one call back to the cellular telephone number. If there is no answer, police will not be sent routinely. No message will be left on voicemai.
2. If at any time a 911 call is received and the dispatcher has reason to believe that police services are needed, appropriate police resources shall be dispatched to the area the cell phone call was made from.
Although Norwick suggested in a press conference Thursday morning that hang-up 911 calls made from cell phones are not called back, Wray said the MPD 911 Cellular Calls policy, in effect since 2006, requires dispatch of an officer if there is reason to believe help is necessary.
As was the case with the press conference held by Dane County Public Safety Communications Director Joe Norwick on Thursday morning, the gathering was packed with media as well as local government elected officials and staff. Downtown alder Eli Judge was present, as was Julia Kerr, in whose near south side district January homicide victim Joel Marino lived.
The complete text of both the MPD statement on the Zimmermann 911 call as well as its January 24, 2007 memo on responding to 911 calls from cell phones are each available in the related downloads at right.
"I understand the discrepancies here," Wray said. "This is not going to be the last word, we are trying to communicate with the community as much as possible. And when this all shakes out, I promise the policies will be clear."
Jason Joyce, Kristian Knutsen, and Erica Pelzek contributed to this report.