Regional 911 call center questioned after call not relayed to police

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BEDFORD HEIGHTS, OH - If you make a 911 call in Bedford, Bedford Heights, Maple Heights or Garfield Heights, calls from all four municipalities come directly to one place: the Southeast Emergency Communications Center in Bedford Heights.

SECC Administrator Greg Duber says, "They have to deal with the woman that's crying because her baby's not breathing or because a loved one was just injured."

But the call center is coming under fire after receiving an emergency call about a suspected drunk driver at the intersection of Turney Road and Rockside last month.

A 911 operator at the regional dispatch center never alerted Garfield Heights police about the dangerous drunk driver.

Duber said, "The dispatcher was talking to the caller, and as she was talking to the caller, the vehicle eventually pulled into a driveway."

With the car off the road, Duber says the operator felt there was nothing police could have done.

But that may have been the wrong decision, with Duber admitting the call center is still going through a lot of growing pains, after consolidating four municipalities into one.

"When you have four city police departments, you have four separate policies for each department. So all these policies had to be joined together to try to work under one policy for all departments," said Duber.

Rumors about Garfield Heights police refusing to respond to that drunk driving call prompted police chief Robert Byrne to sound off on Facebook saying in part, “We have been working diligently to assure incidents like this one do not happen again in the future. We are always willing to address any matters of concern regarding how a call for service was handled."

Garfield Heights resident Raven Humphries says she recently called 911 for a domestic dispute.

"I kept trying to give her my address and she was having a hard time finding where I stayed at to give the officer the location,” said Humphries.

But others who live in that region say they have faith in the way 911 calls are handled and the way police respond.

Michael Cuellar says, “I had my car stolen, and they routed me to whoever I needed to be routed."

Since opening back in 2015, the call center, on average, accepts close to 600 emergency calls every single day.

Byrne says they are constantly working with the call center to improve services and says he has complete faith in Greg Durbin and the way he's running that department.

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