NEW TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Police Department has launched an investigation into the actions of a dispatcher it says failed to follow protocol when he did not immediately send police and firefighters to help rescue a 10-month-old baby trapped inside a car Saturday afternoon.
The mother of the child told ABC Affiliate WFTS, that when she came out of the CVS, on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Shana Dees noticed her car was parked on uneven pavement and the shopping cart kept sliding away. The mom said she unstrapped her baby, put him in his car seat and closed the door.
When she turned around to secure the cart she said her child, who was playing with her car keys, hit the lock button. Dees said the vehicle was not running and temperatures were rising. With her purse and cellphone also in the vehicle, the woman approached a man in the parking lot about using his cellphone and she called 911 for help.
The mom said she was shocked by the dispatcher's response.
Her 911 call: "My infant son is locked in the car in the parking lot," Dees can be heard telling the dispatcher. "It is so hot outside. I'm really concerned, like I don't think I have time to call AAA before he would suffer heat exhaustion. Can somebody come out and open the door? I don't even know if that is something you guys do."
According to the mother, the dispatcher said "they won't be able to try to gain access [to the] car unless the child is in some kind of distress and, well, by that point they may just smash your windows."
The dispatcher then hung up, the mom said.
"The dispatcher absolutely made a mistake. This is not the way we do business," TPD spokeswoman Laura McElroy told the station.
ABC Action News brought the 911 tape to the attention of police Monday morning. They've now opened an investigation and told the station the dispatcher will likely face disciplinary action.