Toledo 911 call center authority transferred to fire departmentWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The oversight of the communications department responsible for answering and dispatching 911 calls is set to be transferred from the Toledo Police Department to the Toledo Fire Department.
Fire Chief Luis Santiago said, “We’re certainly embracing the opportunity to be the lead as far as the dispatch center. Operationally, I don’t think the workers involved are going to see much of a difference as far as the operations.”
On Feb. 21, Toledo Free Press reported that 21 communications positions and six records positions were open and being filled at the Toledo Police Department. However, the reason for the high number of vacancies was in dispute.
Councilman D. Michael Collins, chair of Council’s Public Safety, Law & Criminal Justice committee, said the communications vacancies could be attributed to, “a very hostile environment, solely as a result of top police division leadership responsible for their operations.”
On March 14, Collins said, “[According to] the information, which has been provided to me from the [Mayor Mike] Bell administration, as a result of an investigation by the Affirmative Action Office, a reorganization decision has been made and effective April 1, the communications center for police and fire of the City of Toledo will be under the authority of Chief Santiago of Toledo Fire and Rescue.”
He added that the investigation from affirmative action also called for further training of the communication center’s police supervisors. A police captain and two sergeants currently oversee the call center, Collins said.
“I fully believe that this is an unfortunate set of circumstances. However given the option of keeping the current sworn supervisors in place … it is probably in the best interest of the whole operation,” he said.
Santiago said at present, the two sergeants are staying in the communications department.
Representatives from the mayor’s office and police department were not available for further comment at press time.
When asked about the reason for the high number of communications vacancies on March 1, Toledo Police Deputy Chief Diana Ruiz-Krause said, “Well, there are a number of reasons. Obviously, we can’t just hire on our own. We need the assistance of our personnel department and they have a lot of other positions that need to be filled.”
She added, “It is a difficult job and it’s not unusual throughout the country to have vacancies.”
The call center handles about 300,000 calls per year.
In a Nov. 21 resignation letter sent to several city officials, a former employee said she had spoken to human resources, affirmative action and union representatives about “the harassment” at the communications center.
“I have suffered documented health issues from the stress and emotional abuse over this harassment and retaliation,” the letter read.
“Although I am able to maintain the ability to perform my job, the working environment continues to be a concern.”
Ruiz-Krause said while she is familiar with the individual who wrote the letter, “I don’t know any more detail than what she states in her letter.”