Local dispatchers weigh in on Cleveland 911 call


by WDJT Graphics

Three women missing for years have been rescued from a Cleveland home, but criticism is mounting over how a 9-1-1 call was handled on the night of the dramatic escape.

Amanda Berry called 9-1-1 Monday night to plead for help, that call lasted about 1-minute 40-seconds, and many are wondering why the 9-1-1 operator didn't have Berry stay on the line until police arrived.  

We played the full 9-1-1 call for Kenosha County Telecommunications and Training Officer Sandy Zuerlein, who says she would have kept Berry on the phone.  "In this call, she was afraid that the man who had her was coming back.  If I had kept her on the phone, and he came back, we could have alerted officers," Zuerlein said.  

The Cleveland Department of Public Safety has responded to the criticism, with Director Martin Flask releasing a statement: 

     On behalf of Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, I want to thank you for taking the time to express your concerns about our public safety call-taking process. The actions of the 9-1-1 call-taker who received an emergency call from Amanda Berry on Monday, May 6 are under review.

     While the call-taker complied with policies and procedures which enabled a very fast response by police, we have noted some concerns which will be the focus of our review, including the call-taker’s failure to remain on the line with Ms. Berry until police arrived on scene. Please be assured that this matter will be investigated, and if necessary, appropriate corrective action taken.

     I would like to note that the call-taker did take the call, create an event and send it to the channel dispatcher in less than 90 seconds. Within 1 minutes and 18 seconds from the time that the call-taker answered the call our dispatcher was broadcasting the assignment to available police units. As a result of the call-taker’s actions, police were dispatched and on scene in less than 2 minutes.

Zuerlein says that while it may be easy to second-guess the Cleveland 9-1-1 operator's performance, it is often a hard job to deal with a frantic 9-1-1 caller. 



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