911 call about drunk driver gets no answer, computer glitch blamed for transfer problem

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 19:24:48-04

As he drove along Grand Avenue in New Port Richey last week, Denny Weidner saw a dangerous driver behind the wheel.

“The gentleman was sound asleep. His head was back against the headrest. His eyes were closed. His mouth was half open,” said Weidner.

Weidner called 911 from his cell phone, which took him to the Pasco County call center.

“There’s a drunk driver sitting at a light up here,” he told the dispatcher.

Pasco officials said the dispatcher did the right thing and transferred the call to the correct jurisdiction.

“Alright, let me get you over to the city of New Port Richey. Just stand on the line,” the dispatcher said.

But the suspected drunk driver was going north and moved into the City of Port Richey. They have their own 911 call center too.

“The phone rang 20-25 times,” said Weidner.

Weidner said no one picked up in Port Richey. And he eventually gave up trying to report the DUI.

Pasco County’s 911 call center has been plagued with problems in recent years, including delayed responses and unanswered calls.

But officials said it’s working much better, with only three complaints in the last 14 months.

After doing some digging, we found in this case the problem came when New Port Richey transferred the call to Port Richey.

Port Richey’s police chief said it never came through. 

And they have since found it was because of software glitch.

They are working on a fix, but in the meantime, Weidner is still frustrated about the driver that was never caught.

“If he would have gotten on 19 in his condition, he could have possibly killed somebody,” said Weidner.

Dade City consolidated it’s 911 system with the county in 2013, but the police chiefs in New Port Richey and Port Richey tell me their citizens get better service keeping separate.