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YOUNGSTOWN Higher-priority 911 call caused McKelvey to wait



Published: Sat, August 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The officer first dispatched to a downtown restaurant had been across town on Midlothian Boulevard.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mayor George M. McKelvey hung up on the 911 call-taker who said she'd check to see why the cruiser he'd asked for seven minutes earlier hadn't arrived.

After inquiries this past week about police response time, The Vindicator reviewed the 911 tape. It reveals that a Signal 7 (fight or domestic disturbance) call, which required two officers, took priority over the mayor's request, which the dispatcher had designated a Signal 8 (investigation), which required only one officer.

The mayor had called 911 last Saturday at 1 p.m., requesting that a cruiser be sent to Anthony's on the River, a restaurant downtown. He and the 911 call-taker spoke for about 45 seconds.

"911, what is your emergency?" the call-taker said.

"Hi, is this, uh, Youngstown 911?" McKelvey asked.

"Yes it is."

"Hi, this is the mayor."

"Yes."

"I'm over at Anthony's by the River."

"Um hm."

"I got a suspicious character hiding behind the, uh, statue. I don't know whether he's a sniper or what's going on, uh, across from the restaurant," the mayor said to the woman. "Could you send a cruiser right over?"

"OK."

"Right at the ..."

"Do you have a description, Mr. McKelvey?"

"Pardon me?"

"Do you have a description of him?"

"Uh, he's in a green shirt -- I don't know -- I'm not that way now."

"OK. Can you tell if he's black, white or Hispanic?"

"Uh, I can't tell yet. I believe he's Caucasian."

"OK."

"Just [unintelligible] someone over here real quick, would you please?"

"OK."

"Right across from the [unintelligible] where the statue is."

"OK."

Radio show host: The suspicious person turned out to be Robert Fitzer, host of a local political radio show. Fitzer, former president of the Citizen's League of Greater Youngstown and a member of the political watchdog group's board of directors, had positioned himself across from the restaurant with binoculars and a notepad.

The tape reveals that at 1:03 p.m., the police dispatcher, after receiving information from the 911 call-taker, dispatched an officer to the restaurant. The officer began heading there from across town on Midlothian Boulevard.

At 1:06 p.m., however, the dispatcher had to divert that officer and team him up with another officer. The dispatcher told them to go to Plymouth Street for the Signal 7.

The mayor called 911 again at 1:07 p.m.

"Youngstown 911. What's your emergency?" the call-taker said.

"Hi, uh, this is the mayor again. I called a few moments ago uh, maybe about five minutes ago, for a cruiser to stop by Anthony's by the River," he said. "Suspicious character. No one ever showed up."

The call-taker said: "Let me check with dispatch."

"Yeah, if I can't get somebody, I don't know who can, OK?" he said. The call-taker didn't hear him because she was checking with the dispatcher.

He waited a second or so and then hung up. The dial tone can be heard.

The next sound is the call-taker back on the line saying, "Hello?"

She hung up after hearing the dial tone.

At 1:08 p.m., the dispatcher checked with another patrolman to see if the officer had cleared his last call.

Picking up: Upon learning that the officer was available, the dispatcher said: "OK, do me a favor. This was phoned in by the mayor. I had to break [cruiser] 204 to go to a fight. Go down to Anthony's by the River on Oak Hill. Should be a white male in a green shirt acting, uh, suspiciously somewhere around the statue. He called twice now."

The tape reveals that at 1:11 p.m., an officer on the scene -- who had not been dispatched there -- checked in with the dispatcher. "Be advised that [cruiser] 307 is en route, also," the dispatcher responded.

Police said earlier this week that an officer on his way home heard the call and went to the restaurant.

Two minutes later, at 1:13 p.m., yet another officer at the scene called the dispatcher to report that the investigation was cleared and no further action was required.

McKelvey had met local politicians and community leaders for a private lunch at the restaurant. The monthly get-together is known as the Cafaro Roundtable.

The roundtable brings together prominent local leaders to discuss politics, current events, policy and the Mahoning Valley, and was first established by William Cafaro, the late patriarch of the mall-developing family.

Defends actions: Tom Zamary, Citizen's League secretary, defended Fitzer's actions after McKelvey criticized the man's behavior and talked about reviewing the possibility of filing stalking charges.

Zamary has said that if Fitzer was watching people coming in and out of the restaurant, there is nothing wrong with that.

The bigger issue, Zamary said this past week, is who shows up at the meetings and what goes on at them.

The league is expected to make a statement within the next few days.

meade@vindy.com




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