CINCINNATI (AP) — An outside review of Cincinnati’s 911 call system that was spurred by a teenager's death three years ago found many improvements have been made, but management and morale remain problems that continue to hurt employee retention.
The report was part of a $6 million wrongful death lawsuit settlement reached in April by the city and the family of 16-year-old Kyle Plush, who died in April 2018 after he was accidentally trapped under a folding seat in a minivan parked near his school and called 911 twice. His father found him six hours after he managed to call 911 using voice commands to activate the phone in his pocket.
A Hamilton County prosecutor did not bring criminal charges against anyone for the failed response to Plush’s 911 calls, in which he warned that he feared he would die. Two officers sent in response to Plush’s first 911 call drove through parking areas around the school, but didn’t get out. Police have said they didn’t have the information needed to narrow their search.
Plush’s family filed their wrongful death lawsuit in 2019 against the city, two 911 center employees, two police officers and a former city official, saying they wanted to find out what went wrong and to make sure it did not happen again.
The 47-page report makes 16 recommendations, and many relate to management-employee relations and morale at the city's emergency communication center, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Thursday. The lawsuit settlement stipulates that improvements recommended by the experts must be made.
“Morale remains a major issue in the center, so the ECC can’t hire its way out of a staffing shortage,” the report states. “Until it addresses the core reasons why people are leaving, the ECC will never be able to hire enough people to become fully staffed.”