911 Operator Criticized After Berry Rescue, Review Ongoing

As we reported yesterday, a 911 operator criticized after the high-profile rescue of kidnapped women Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, and Gina DeJesus is under fire, and procedures are under review in Cleveland following the possible blunder.

The 911 operator criticized for possibly mishandling Berry’s rescue has not been identified, but audio recordings and transcripts of the call have been widely distributed following the strange and unexpected events of Monday afternoon and the dramatic escape and capture of the perps.

Berry, who had been held captive for more than 10 years, called after neighbor Charles Ramsey assisted her in escaping the home of Ariel Castro.

A distraught Berry begs the 911 operator now criticized to send police immediately — and while units responded in just two minutes, no sense of urgency on the part of the operator was detectable in the the audio of the call.

What’s more, many have suggested Berry (who was plaintive and clearly terrified) should have been kept on the line until police arrived — and instead, the 911 operator appears to try to get the victim off the line, repeatedly telling her to speak with police when they arrive.

One Tennessee station spoke with local 911 call center director Jennifer Estes, who explains why the 911 operator criticized may have handled the Berry report somewhat questionably:

“[911 operators] are [victims’] only link … They have to be able to maintain that professionalism, remain calm, be that voice of calmness, be the voice of reassurance to someone who’s calling at the worst time of their life.”

Estes adds:

“We always tell our [dispatchers] you’re putting normal people in abnormal situations. They’re having to talk to people who are at the worst times of their lives, so it is very stressful.”

Estes’ perspective sheds some light on the perhaps jarring tone of the call — but another reason the 911 operator criticized has come under scrutiny is the continued insistance on quibbling over the address where Berry was located, after she explained she’d fled to a neighbor’s home.

Do you think the 911 operator criticized after Berry’s escape put the victims in danger?