Canton dispatcher faces charge for 911 'failure'

Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 30, 2016

The Canton police dispatcher who did not send officers to a home where a woman was being attacked by her ex-boyfriend earlier this week is facing an internal charge.

According to Canton police chief Bruce Lawver, the woman, who has been working as a dispatcher for the department for about 10 years, is facing an internal charge of unsatisfactory performance.

The dispatcher, who was not identified by police, will have a hearing to determine whether she will be disciplined. Disciplinary action could range from being written up to termination. 

"It could take a week or it could take several weeks," said Lawver. "We definitely want to go a good, thorough investigation."

Police say officers respond to hundreds of hang-up calls per year. According to Lawver, policy requires that if a caller can't be reached through a call back, officers are sent to the address to do a safety check

The internal charge stems from an incident on Easter Sunday, in which a woman was brutally beaten by her ex-boyfriend inside her Tanner Avenue SW home. 

During the beating, Bobbie Alm said she called 911 from her cell phone, but her ex-boyfriend, Juan Contero, tossed it away from her, so she couldn't communicate with the operator, according to the victim.

However, 911 calls confirm that dispatchers from Stark County and Canton knew the exact location of the incident, but officers were never sent to help Alm.

"I called 911. Nobody ever showed up," Alm said.

A dispatcher called back Alm and she crawled to her phone, but she said she couldn't hear the operator because the speaker on the phone was no longer working.

Chief Lawver said officers should have been dispatched even if the dispatchers thought it was a 911 hang up call.

"It appears we dropped the ball," he said.