Youngstown Police: 46 minute response to armed robbery 911
A caller asked if she should dial something other than 911 to reach police.
Victim: "They have 'em at bingos and everything. Why aren't the here?"
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN — When the city council president asked a police dispatcher if cops were responding to a robbery that involved a gun, the dispatcher said there was "no mention of a gun" for the call from East Philadelphia Avenue.
However, an audiotape of 911 calls and police radio traffic obtained by The Vindicator shows the robbery victim, Susan Boyd, sounded terrified and was very clear at 9:36 p.m. Friday when she told the 911 call-taker that a "big silver gun" had been put to her face.
The 34-year-old mother of five also gave a fairly detailed description of the white-capped assailant and which way he ran — out her driveway toward Indianola Avenue, down Shady Run Road.
After a 911 call-taker receives pertinent information, it is passed on via computer to a police dispatcher, who assigns calls based on priority.
Police didn't arrive at Boyd's house until 46 minutes after she called for help. During that time, many of Boyd's neighbors also called about the robbery.
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At 10:14 p.m., John Swierz, council president, asked the police dispatcher about the robbery call on East Philadelphia, where a gun was put to the woman's head.
"No mention of gun put to head and yes we did have a call and there has been people dispatched to it," the dispatcher answered.
Swierz said, "Thank you. Good enough."
The police dispatcher can be heard assigning the call to two beat cops at 9:58 p.m., 22 minutes after the crime was reported by Boyd. The officers, though, explained that they would be downtown "a while" because they were working with one of the new YPD onboard computers in their cruiser.
The dispatcher acknowledged the delay and advised the officers that when they were in service to go to 969 E. Philadelphia — "signal 2 [robbery] code 2 [recently occurred]." The dispatcher did not add "with a 19," meaning the robbery had recently occurred with a weapon.
The officers left the YPD garage at 10:13 p.m. and arrived at Boyd's house at 10:22 p.m.
During that time, calls poured into the 911 center from Boyd's neighbors.
"We need the cops here now" was the message at 9:46 p.m.
Another neighbor called at 9:53 and expressed the same urgency.
At 9:56, a concerned neighbor pointed out that it had been 20 minutes and still no cruiser.
Each time, the neighbors were assured "we'll get someone there as soon as possible" by the 911 call-taker.
At 10:04 p.m., one of Boyd's neighbors asked the call-taker: "Is there another number that I might be able to use to get to the police department other than 911?"
"This is the police department, ma'am," came the answer.
After being told "somebody's on the way," the neighbor said: "I mean they have 'em [police] at bingos and everything — why aren't they here?"
YPD internal affairs division, as part of its investigation, will determine the nature of the other priority calls. Two police dispatchers were working together Friday night, one of whom was being trained.
This story illustrates yet again that calling the police is not an effective means of self-defense.
Click here to read the story in the Youngstown Vindicator.
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