MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - A deputy police chief defends the way a 911 dispatcher handled a woman’s emergency call about teens terrorizing her family Tuesday night.
Maj. Rodney Muterspaw said Friday that dispatcher Lynn Crank followed procedures and training.
RELATED: Listen to the 911 call
At 10:05 p.m. Tuesday, Jennifer Saylor called 911 and frantically told Crank that a group of teens that had broken into her house five times previously was now throwing bricks and trying to kick in the door in the 2000 block of Roosevelt Road.
Dispatcher Crank hung up on Saylor after three minutes after telling her she could no longer stay on the line. It then took police 26 minutes to respond.
Muterspaw said he supports Crank 100 percent and that dispatchers have to raise their voice sometimes to get a frantic caller's attention.
"Sometimes you have to be stern with people who call in," he said. "It's no different than an officer who goes to call on a disturbance with five or six people yelling and screaming. Sometimes being soft spoken will not work.
"The dispatcher was able to talk her down a little bit, but then the lady became loud again so the dispatcher became loud again," Muterspaw said. "The dispatcher was not yelling at her. She was trying to get her to calm down and it was obvious what was working and what was not working."
At the end of the call, Saylor said she wanted to stay on the line, but the dispatcher Crank said that she could not.
"The decision to stay on the phone or hang up is strictly on the dispatcher's discretion simply because there's times when people want to stay on the phone for a long period of time," Muterspaw said. "We have multiple calls coming in and if our dispatcher is on the phone they can't answer those other calls."
Crank was honored as this week as Dispatcher of the Year for the fifth time.
"She's an experienced dispatcher," Muterspaw said. "She's been our Dispatcher of the Year numerous times. She gets a lot of compliments from the public and from the officers about her demeanor."
Muterspaw said that all officers on duty had just responded to a shooting when Saylor’s call came in.
Crank advised Saylor about the shooting and told her that police would respond as soon as possible, Muterspaw said.
The dispatcher repeatedly asked Saylor if the teens were still outside her home. When Saylor said the teens had left, Crank determined that there was no longer an immediate threat to the caller, Muterspaw said.
Here is a partial transcript of the 911 call:
DISPATCHER: I can't hear. Ma'am. Ma'am, you need to stop yelling. I can't hear you.
SAYLOR: They busted my front door. They're trying to kick my door in.
DISPATCHER: What is your address?
SAYLOR: Roosevelt Boulevard. They're trying to shoot my house and everything.
DISPATCHER: OK. Who is it?
SAYLOR: Some kids I called the police on for breaking into my house and they've been trying to …
DISPATCHER: Are they kicking at your door? Answer my questions. Are they there right now?
SAYLOR: Yes. They're outside my door. Please come now.
DISPATCHER: Ma'am. Ma'am, you have to stop screaming. I can't help you until you stop screaming.
SAYLOR: I can't even open my house. I can't even open my doors.
DISPATCHER: Don't open your door then. Stay in your house. Easy. Stay in your house 'till we get there. OK?
SAYLOR: I can't get out anyways.
DISPATCHER: Stay in your house. Stay in your house until we get there.
SAYLOR: I'm scared. I'm not hanging up the phone.
DISPATCHER: I have to hang up the phone, ma'am. I have to. I cannot stay on the phone with you. Stay in the house.
A day after the incident, Saylor told WCPO she had feared the teens would kill her and her two kids, ages 4 months and 4 years.
A few hours after the teens tried to break in, somebody set fire to Saylor's house and destroyed it. Police have charged a 17-year-old with arson.
The fire damage was estimated at $50,000, and the home was considered a total loss.