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Cincinnati's 911 center gets immediate changes with funds for more staff, more training

Immediate 911 changes: More staff, more training
Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 07:27:19-04

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati's acting city manager will present initial plans for the troubled 911 center in a city council meeting Tuesday. 

Patrick Duhaney promised an action plan for the troubled 911 center by the end of the month on his first day on Saturday; his first day on the job. 

On Monday, Duhaney was already prepared to make immediate changes to fund more staff and more training. Duhaney will present plans for the 911 center in a 3:45 p.m. meeting Tuesday at city hall. 

"This staff will focus on I.T. needs, additional supervisors for the emergency communications centers and also two high-level supervisors to help us to always continually train, hire, retrain, train, hire, retrain -- just a continuous cycle," he said.

Duhaney took over the city's top job Saturday after Harry Black, facing likely termination, resigned instead. Councilman Greg Landsman decided last week that Black wasn't focused enough on fixing issues with the 911 service and instead was distracted by a running feud with Mayor John Cranley, becoming a crucial fifth vote to support Black's removal.


Dysfunction at the 911 center, a life-or-death operation, is nothing new: The WCPO I-Team first uncovered problems beginning in 2013, including low staffing, inadequate training and, in October 2016, call routing from cellphones that left some calls unanswered.

In August, the city even announced it would drop its subcontractor after more than a year of problems, including a three-hour window when people couldn't hear the audio on incoming and outgoing calls. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld voiced concern about blackouts in 911 service that lasted up to 30 minutes.

RELATED: Ex-employee alleges managerial incompetence, dysfunction at 911 center

"The fundamental promise that local government makes to its constituents, to its citizens is that when you call in an emergency, you're going to get a response," Sittenfeld said then.

The issue came to public attention again last week after Plush, a Seven Hills student, suffocated in his van, despite two calls to 911 for help. Numerous questions also remain about the actions of police officers at the scene, an internal investigation is underway.

Although Duhaney may be in the job on a temporary basis, the police captain running the 911 center believes he and elected officials take the issue seriously. It was Duhaney's first stop Saturday after he was sworn into office.

"I believe that they're giving me everything I need in the short term, and then we're going to talk about a long-term plan that we can make sure we continue our progress here and give our citizens the best call center in America," Capt. Jim Gramke said.

Gramke said he's already working to hire more staff.