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Denver Public Safety apologizes for bungled hit-and-run response

Department meeting to examine policy changes
911 call hit-and-run slow response denver.jpg
Posted at 10:28 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 00:28:40-05

DENVER — Kali Benson says after a hit-and-run driver plowed into her car, she immediately called 911, but police never showed up.

On Nov. 5 just after 8 p.m., Benson was at a full stop on 38th Street near Delgany Street when another driver slammed into her car and then took off.

"It's pretty bad," she said to the 911 operators in the recorded call obtained by Denver7. "I am kind of in shock and shaking a little bit because I don't know if I can drive my car right now. It is really smashed up."

What seemed to be an obvious emergency to Benson was met with the following response in the recording from the 911 operator: "It is Friday night, and we are pretty busy. You also have the option of filing this report online or at a district station."

Benson, again, asked for someone to respond to the crash.

"OK, well, just you know it could be a while before they get out there," the operator said.

Benson waited for nearly three hours, but Denver police never showed up to the scene. She never received a call back.

"I still felt just very sad and frustrated because when you call the police, you expect that the police, especially for an incident like this, they would show up."

The incident detail report for the crash says the Denver Fire Department was dispatched to 38th St. and Brighton Blvd., a wrong address that was a block from where Benson was waiting.

In the 911 recording, Benson spells Delgany Street and later repeats it in the call following confusion about her location.

Denver's Department of Public Safety has recently gone public about staffing issues and training needs at the 911 call center, but a spokesperson said that was not related to the problems with the response in Benson's incident.

Andrea Webber, a spokesperson for Denver Public Safety, said when police are dispatched to a scene, their policy is to call the victim if they can't find them. However, the DFD was initially sent to Benson's hit-and-run call. Webber said the DFD is not required to notify the reporting party if they are not found, so first responders cleared the call and never attempted to call Benson.

Webber said a meeting is already scheduled for next week to discuss changes to the protocol for the DFD and the issues with the response to this call.

"We want to extend our deepest apologies to this victim," Webber said. "We will investigate this matter further to determine policy changes."

Meanwhile, Benson is still dealing with severe whiplash, $6,000 in damage to her car and insurance struggles. She had to return to the scene three days after the crash to file a police report in person. While police have surveillance video showing the suspect's vehicle, they have not identified a suspect and the case is inactive.

"I don't think there will be justice in my case, unfortunately," said Benson, who just moved to Denver from Minnesota in February. "I kind of want to move out of Denver because I don't feel very safe here."

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