May 7th, 2013
11:49 PM ET

Police address Amanda Berry's 911 call

Det. Jennifer Ciaccia tells Anderson Cooper that Cleveland police will look at how a dispatcher handled Amanda Berry's frantic 911 call. But she says regardless of the nature of the call, the response from law enforcement was swift.

"The call taker was able to get the information that was needed ... zone car arrived on scene in under two minutes. So really time wasn't a factor. What needed to be done, was done," says Ciaccia.

Berry went missing in 2003 on the eve of her 17th birthday. She was found in a Cleveland house with two other women who has been missing for years. Michelle Knight was 21 when she vanished in 2002 and Gina DeJesus was last seen in 2004 at age 14.

A neighbor, Charles Ramsey, freed Berry and a young girl by kicking in the door when he heard her screaming for help on Monday. She immediately called 911 to tell them it was her, apparently aware they had been searching for her for a decade.

The dispatcher has received criticism for not staying on the phone with her. Here's the transcript of their exchange:

Caller: Help me! I'm Amanda Berry.

Dispatcher: You need police, fire, ambulance?

Caller: I need police.

Dispatcher: OK, and what's going on there?

Caller: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.

Dispatcher: OK, and what's your address?

Caller: 2207 Seymour Avenue.

Dispatcher: 2207 Seymour. Looks like you're calling me from 2210.

Caller: Huh?

Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210.

Caller: I can't hear you.

Dispatcher: It looks like you're calling me from 2210 Seymour.

Caller: I'm across the street; I'm using the phone.

Dispatcher: OK, stay there with those neighbors. Talk to police when they get there.

Caller: (Crying)

Dispatcher: OK, talk to police when they get there.

Caller: OK. Hello?

Dispatcher: Yeah, talk to the police when they get there.

Caller: OK. Are they on their way right now? I need them now.

Dispatcher: We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.

Caller: No, I need them now before he gets back.

Dispatcher: All right; we're sending them, OK?

Caller: OK, I mean, like ...

Dispatcher: Who's the guy you're trying - who's the guy who went out?

Caller: Um, his name is Ariel Castro.

Dispatcher: Alright. How old is he?

Caller: He's like 52.

Dispatcher: And, uh –

Caller: I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.

Dispatcher: I got, I got that, dear. (Unintelligible) And, you say, what was his name again?

Caller: Uh, Ariel Castro.

Dispatcher: And is he white, black or Hispanic?

Caller: Uh, Hispanic.

Dispatcher: What's he wearing?

Caller: I don't know, 'cause he's not here right now. That's why I ran away.

Dispatcher: When he left, what was he wearing?

Caller: Who knows (unintelligible).

Dispatcher: The police are on their way; talk to them when they get there.

Caller: Huh? I - OK.

Dispatcher: I told you they're on their way; talk to them when they get there, OK.

Caller: All right, OK. Bye.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. tanya

    As someone in the profession, the dispatcher should have stayed on the phone and should NOT have said we'll send a car when available. However, they did an excellent job of gathering information and cops arrived in 2 minutes. The first few minutes of any call is getting facts first. It was because of that dispatcher that cops arrived. Its always easy to criticize but after reading the transcript it was clear that the dispatcher, while cold and abrasive, did send authorities. She does need to work on her communications skills, but she did the job and sent help.

    May 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  2. Cindy

    I have a question. Whose phone did she use? I believe the person who gave her their phone, should've been the one to have called 911. Clearly the girl was hysterical and a bit incoherent. I wasn't there, but in that situation I believe I would have done it for her. Thank God they are safe.

    May 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  3. Chris Scade

    Ya when I heard the recorded 911 call I was like WTF? The guy was pretty much like, ya I don't care who you are or what is going on... the police will get there when they get there... tell them the story because I don't care... i dont care, click.

    That operator should be retrained or fired.

    May 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  4. MarkedMan

    For any and all sexual crimes (once they have been proven solid based on DNA evidence) the criminal's punishment should be the following:

    1. Mandatory Castration (you abuse it you lose it). You may commit another crime; rape won't be one of them.

    2. Mandatory prison sentence (without any parole) of at least 20 years.

    I believe that would greatly reduce the number of sexual crimes being committed. Hopefully, the justice system will address the punishment for such crimes.

    3. Get a system that alerts law enforcement when a missing person's name is announced. That might help in really getting the dispatcher's attention next time.

    May 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  5. Tamara

    This is beyond disturbing. Isn't compassion integrated into the protocol in these kinds of interactions? Wouldn't it make sense for the dispatcher to stay on the line with her until the police arrived to ensure nothing chaotic happened that would warrant notification to the police en route? The disptacher was cold, apathetic and frankly a disgrace to the profession.

    May 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • kim

      Exactly ~ When we heard that 911 call it broke our hearts hearing the fear & desperation in Amanda's voice & the dispatcher's lack of compassion and comfort. The dispatcher should be fired.

      May 9, 2013 at 2:36 am |
  6. Murilo Venturini

    The dispatcher should have stayed on the phone while the police was on the way.

    May 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  7. Jane Bueno

    This is not the first time that I heard about a BAD DISPATCHER. They make too much questions while the person on the other side of the line is desperate. Sometimes is a case of life and death. Dispatchers should be trained over and over until they feel they can do a good job. In this case, the dispatcher asked too many questions instead of helping her. Anderson Cooper, you should put this problem in CNN for everybody to know how bad these calls are handled.

    May 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  8. Karen L. Cordy

    I am appalled at the way this dispatcher handled Amanda Berry's call pleading for help. Swift action needs to be taken and an apology given to Amanda Berry. At the very least!

    May 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  9. Janice Murphy

    That dispatcher is not cut out for that line of work.

    May 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Norma

    The 911 dispatcher should have stayed on the line. Knowing that Berry had been kidnapped and held for a long time she should have known that this was probably a one in a million chance that Berry was able to contact the outside world and was terrified. A calming presence of the 911 operator would have meant a lot to the frightened girl who was terrified that her abductors would come back before the police arrived. I think 911 operators do a great job on the whole but they do need sensitivity training.

    May 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  11. carolyn

    i think the dispatcher was very un-professional in how she talked to the victim.I dispatched for 18yrs and I would have kept her on the phone and not treated her like that

    May 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Kyle

    This is such a heart wrenching story. The dispatcher should have definitely stayed on the phone with them, however, if I would have been the dispatcher I would have been confused as to what was going on...Either way, they are safe, they are back with their families, and I hope these idiots who robbed 10 years of ALL of their lives rots in jail...These poor innocent girls...

    May 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  13. d tomchick

    She should have stayed on the line with her until the police got there. The guy could have came back and hurt her. She shows no compassion or professionalism.I was a 911 dispatcher and you are to handle those situations a lit better than she did.

    May 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Sandra

      While the operator sounds cold and uncaring, which is what I thought at first, as I understand it, the operator's FIRST job is to get all the important information, such as the name and address of the distressed person, so that police, fire or ambulance go to the right location, equipped for whatever they find. He or she is not supposed to get emotionally involved with the caller, in any way, because that might exacerbate an already volatile situation. Perhaps once one has been at that job for many years, one can afford some emotional connection, but once the correct services are properly dispatched to the scene, THOSE responders are the ones best able to take the next appropriate action.

      It sounded as though this operator coundn't wait to get Amanda off the phone. But reading the transcript, the necessary information was collected from Amanda, and the operator knew Amanda was not alone, was away from the perpetrator from whom she had escaped, and the appropriate service to best assist Amanda were on their way. I hope the operator reflects on this call, and realizes she missed an opportunity to sound more sympathetic, and learns from this, so she can sound more supportive in her future interactions.

      May 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  14. Yvonne

    911 Dispatcher should be fired.

    May 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  15. Vikki S

    I am pleased someone has opened a discussion about the inept 911 response. A panicked woman begs for help and the responder says she'll send a car "when one is open". She then ends the call and tells the victim to "talk to the police" instead of her. This 911 responder is the second non-captor Amanda has spoken with in 10 years, and virtually dismisses her rather than reassuring her and staying on the line to ensure her safety when the caller clearly fears for her life. Appalling.

    May 8, 2013 at 4:02 am |