At a press conference this afternoon, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray responded to the growing media feeding frenzy over the Brittany Zimmermann case by tossing a body to the assembled hungry reporters. His name was Joe Norwick.
Wray provided information markedly at odds with statements made earlier in the day by Norwick, director of Dane County's 911 Center, regarding Isthmus' report that the UW-Madison student called 911 prior to her murder on April 2.
Norwick had told reporters that the Madison police have specifically asked that officers not be dispatched to certain calls made from cell phones, in part because of technological limitations.
But Wray released a statement saying "there is evidence in the call, which should have resulted in a Madison police officer being dispatched." He provided a copy of the MPD's policy, which says officers should be dispatched to cell phone calls if the dispatcher "has reason to believe that police services are needed." Wray also confirmed that "technology exists where we can get either very close to, or the exact location" of, a cell-phone call.
Wray says that shortly after police determined that a 911 call had been made -- information apparently not volunteered by the 911 Center -- it requested that Norwick conduct an internal investigation. This fact was also not provided during Norwick's briefing.
The police chief also clarified that while the MPD has asked the 911 Center not to release the tape of Zimmermann's call or reveal exactly when it was received, it never asked the center to refuse to confirm that a call was received. "No," he stated. "The MPD did not."
But despite these revelations, Wray provided no additional information on the content of Zimmermann's communication to the 911 Center, which detectives have reviewed. He refused to say even whether her voice can be heard; asked how revealing this information could possibly compromise the integrity of the investigation, Wray said: "You would know that if you were one of the investigators."
Curiously, at that moment, it felt like the reporters in the room fit that bill. And they are hot on the trail.