I-Team: Three people paid to take your 911 calls taken off job due to criminal records

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW )- The FOX 8 I-Team has found some people paid to take your 911 calls have been taken off the job due to their criminal records, and no one noticed they had been working around police computers.

Three call-takers from the Cuyahoga County communications center have been placed on paid leave as the county sorts this out.

The state determined the three workers shouldn’t be working there due to “prior criminal convictions and/or arrests.” The cases date back years. And that dispatch center includes law enforcement computers with confidential information about everyone.

The county says the criminal histories came to light during a records review.

The call-takers all have worked for the county for a very long time.

This dispatching center only started using law enforcement databases in 2014.

Still though, that means those call-takers with records worked in a room around the police computers for years.

Alex Pellom, Cuyahoga County’s Director of Justice Affairs in Public Safety said, “We’re really trying to make sure, we’re not trying, we ‘are’ going through to make sure we’re in compliance, and we’re doing things the right way.”

The I-Team did some digging through court records. We found one call-taker indicted in 2012 for rape and kidnapping. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges. We found another investigated in 2006 for kidnapping and impersonating a police officer, but he was not indicted. The other guy has a record for a series of misdemeanor cases.

Pellom was not in charge when those employees were hired. And he’s not sure what might happen next to them with the internal reviews ongoing.

But, going forward, he said, “I’m comfortable where we are with the background checks. We’re in…compliance with the state.”

To be clear, the call-takers with records did not actually use the police computers. But the Ohio Highway Patrol says state officials generally do not want anyone with any kind of arrest record even around the computers unless they are “escorted," watched closely and constantly.

FOX 8 is not naming the employees involved with the internal reviews still pending.

The county communications center known as CECOMS handles about 400,000 calls a year. Mostly the center takes in emergency 911 calls and routes them to the appropriate police or fire department. However, CECOMS also handles dispatching for East Cleveland police and fire.

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