CLEVELAND – When you call police, you expect them to arrive quickly, but that’s not always the case in Cleveland. The wife of a U.S. Senator waited two hours for police to get to their home after their burglar alarm sounded, prompting some Cleveland City Council members to call for hearings on the issue.
An alarm company called Cleveland police at 5:56 a.m. on Tuesday, March 29 to request that officers respond to the home of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and his wife, columnist Connie Schultz, after an alarm sounded. The alarm company reported the residents’ names and the fact that Schultz was still in the home at the time.
Still, nearly two hours passed before police dispatched a cruiser at 7:48 a.m. The delay prompted Schultz to call police directly before the officer arrived.
“This neighborhood has been so safe,” Schultz told a police dispatcher. “That's why it's alarming to me that that could be the response rate.”
It was particularly alarming, she said, as it occurred one day after a shooting at the U.S. Capitol.
“My husband is a U.S. Senator, and the thing that happened at the Capitol yesterday in Washington, that's why I was a little more concerned than usual,” Schultz told the dispatcher.
A dispatch supervisor could not offer further explanation, only saying there had been a shift change during the two-hour time period. She referred Schultz to Mayor Frank Jackson’s office.
“I don’t know what the delay was on giving it out,” the supervisor said. “When there's an assignment like this pending, we have to notify a sector supervisor that we have this assignment pending and don't have a car to give it to.”
Cleveland Police spokesperson Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said alarm calls come in as a lower priority code 3, and police officers in the district at the time were busy responding to higher priority calls, including a man threatening suicide. She said it would be different if a caller reported an intruder in a home and said Cleveland Police get alarm calls often with most being accidental, such as wind rattling windows.
However, several council members said this incident reflects a systemic problem, and they demanded hearings during Monday’s council meeting.
"You think about what era we're in, we're in the era of ISIS, we're in the era of terrorists,” Councilman Zack Reed said. "They say burglar alarms go from code 1 down to a code 3, but I would think a United States Senator should always be a priority one."
“"Connie’s and my number one concern is for the safety of all Clevelanders. Everyone should be able to feel safe and protected, and there is no reason our home should be treated any differently than anyone else`s. We raised this concern so that if there is a flaw in the emergency response system, it can be addressed for all Clevelanders, and we are grateful to the police who work hard and put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep our city safe."
Ciaccia said a police supervisor is reviewing this case and examining what other district officers were doing that kept them from responding to the alarm call at the house.
She declined to comment on whether people with burglar alarms who are fearful about a break-in should still call police directly to register the call as a higher priority code. Ciaccia also said she could not say if Cleveland Police considered the two-hour response time acceptable, pending the outcome of the review of the case. Police officers found no signs of a break-in at the home.