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Disabled woman waits 11+ hours for 911 response by Seattle police

A disabled woman called police for help when her wheelchair was stolen, then waited eleven and a half hours for an officer to arrive. Miriam Tveit hoped police could spot the heavy, motorized wheelchair being ridden away somewhere in her neighborhood but said the slow response crushed any chance of that. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE – A disabled woman called police for help when her wheelchair was stolen, then waited eleven and a half hours for an officer to arrive.

Miriam Tveit hoped police could spot the heavy, motorized wheelchair being ridden away somewhere in her neighborhood but said the slow response crushed any chance of that.

“It's something that's my lifeline and I let them know right when it was taken,” Tveit said, adding that their response was “not OK."

Tveit suffered a brain injury decades ago and now uses a specialized wheelchair because of seizures. That chair off her porch Tuesday morning.

Tveit said she called 911 within minutes. Seattle police dispatched a unit, but said it got re-routed to another call. Minutes slipped into hours, and two shift-changes occurred before an officer finally arrived just before 9 p.m.

Tveit now finds herself homebound and facing real challenges to get to her doctor's appointments and even the grocery store. However, she doesn't fault patrol officers.

“Can't blame any of the police officers because they have to get the thing from the dispatcher,” Tveit said. “The police officers, it's not their fault. it's behind the scenes."

Tveit said the wheelchair is worth about $15,000. She will have to apply for a replacement through Medicare, which she said could take several months.

Police declined to be interviewed but did offer a written statement:

“The Seattle Police Department continues to review this incident. It is not representative of our typical 911 response time." Police also contend that the victim delayed making that initial call for help.

In terms of typical response times for Seattle police, the goal for priority one calls - involving life-threatening emergencies and crimes in progress - is seven minutes or less. Priority two - involving property crimes and disturbances - is within 16 minutes. Priority three - for general nuisances and parking complaints - is within 40 minutes.

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