Local Dispatchers Weigh In on Berry’s 911 Call

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Questions and concerns are being raised about why the dispatcher who took Amanda Berry’s 911 call didn’t stay on the phone with her until police arrived. Those who work in the field say those decisions come with training and experience.

Berry, who had been missing for 10 years, made a frantic 911 call in Cleveland saying “I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for ten years and I’m here. I’m free.” The dispatcher followed procedure by sending a police unit to Berry as soon as possible but didn’t stay on the phone with her. That part of the call is being investigated to see if the dispatcher acted appropriately.

There are 14  dispatchers in Mahoning County and each one goes through a minimum of six months of training. Each candidate works as an “extra” person on day shift, learning the phone system and the state’s LEAD program. Each new-hire also has to ride through the county and learn the geography of the area. Hands-on training and taking calls comes later when the candidate is ready.

Boardman dispatcher and trainer Christy Anderson said each call is different and the dispatcher has to adjust to each one.

“We ask the who, what, where, when, why and how,” said Anderson. “It’s all the same questions over and over again. Sometimes you have to break up the order depending on how the caller is.”

Dave Catauro has been a dispatcher with Mahoning County for 20 years and has heard a lot of calls over the years. He agrees that every situation has to be evaluated but every effort is made to stay on the line with a caller as long as possible.

“She made it pretty clear, from what I heard, she was kidnapped and missing for ten years,” said Catauro. “I mean, that’s about as important as it gets. I would like to think that our dispatchers would have stayed on the line with the calling party until the authorities got there to make sure that young woman was safe and was in good hands.”

Catauro said he would like to know more about the Berry emergency call and what was on the dispatcher’s board at the time adding there were a lot of red flags. He said he doesn’t fault the dispatcher for not knowing Berry’s name but said it would take something pretty catastrophic to end a call like that.

“Be prepared for whatever cause the next call you get you don’t know what it is, and you don’t know what it could be, so be ready,” said Catauro.

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