Cleveland 911 dispatchers caught sleeping on job, talking to inmates

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8-TEAM is investigating a series of punishments handed out to dispatchers in the Cleveland 911 Center including one caught sleeping on the job repeatedly.

Records show a Cleveland Police dispatcher got fired this week after getting written up for sleeping on the job three times. The Safety Director found she also had multiple instances of not showing up for work and coming in late.

In fact, the I-TEAM found the same dispatcher had been punished years ago after getting caught sleeping on the job. A recording revealed heavy breathing and snoring captured on police radio.

Meantime, recordings have now been released to the I-TEAM revealing one of the reasons another dispatcher got fired. He talked to inmates he knew in the Cuyahoga County Jail even while handling police radio calls.

In one recording, he tells a female inmate, “Hold on, OK? I’m on the radio.” She answers, “OK.”

Then, the inmate asks the dispatcher to look up a case on the county court docket. She starts to give the name, and the dispatcher interrupts her with, “Shut up shut up shut up shut up.”

Seconds later, he talks to police officers over the police radio,  “OK…” “95 and Yale what’s the (license) plate?”

Last month, City Hall announced another police dispatcher also had been fired for a “pattern of misconduct.”

And, this comes as the City also just disciplined an EMS dispatcher for recently sending an ambulance to the wrong address in a medical emergency for a baby. That dispatcher’s punishment included a letter of reprimand and retraining. In that case, the baby’s grandmother has wanted answers.

The I-TEAM has also been investigating short staffing in the Cleveland dispatch center along with 911 calls not being answered.

Just yesterday, the I-TEAM revealed an Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher could not get through to Cleveland 911 to ask for an ambulance after an undercover agent shot and wounded a suspect. The trooper was on hold for three minutes fifty-four seconds.

And, again, now all this discipline.

City Hall remains closed due to COVID-19. So, we sent questions to the Mayor’s Office saying we want the Safety Director or someone to address this. Now, members of Cleveland City Council want an explanation too.

Councilman Kevin Conwell said, “I’m not very happy, and that’s not fair to the residents.”

He added, “It’s a larger problem. And it seems like there’s a culture problem City Council needs to look into.”

The Mayor’s Office did not respond to our request for an interview.

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