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Poloncarz: 911 dispatcher who acted 'totally inappropriately' placed on administrative leave

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Posted at 12:48 PM, May 18, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced Wednesday that a 911 dispatcher who acted "totally inappropriate" when taking a 911 call from someone inside the Tops on Jefferson Avenue during the mass shooting Saturday, has been placed on administrative leave.

Erie County officials are moving swiftly in reprimanding the 911 call taker who reportedly "hung up" on a caller asking for help, during Saturday's mass shooting.

On Sunday the county went through all the calls associated with the shooting and identified the call. On Monday the individual was placed on administrative, leave pending a hearing on May 30. Poloncarz said the dispatcher acted "totally inappropriately, not following protocol," and the county's intention is to terminate the dispatcher.

"The 911 operator was inappropriate," he said. "The individual was called, I think, before coming into work and said you are suspended."

According to Poloncarz, someone who was inside Tops Supermarket during the shooting called 911 and spoke to a 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher allegedly asked why the individual was whispering and Poloncarz said one of the parties hung up and ended the phone call.

"We teach our 911 call takers that if someone is whispering, it probably means they are in trouble. They are in an area of concern, not just in regards to active shooters, but potentially with regards to domestic violence," Poloncarz said.

The dispatcher's name was not released but the county executive said the individual has been in the position for eight years.

"We have to go through a process that exists through our union contract, in which we go forth to present the information and the individual has the opportunity to respond," said.

Additionally, Poloncarz said the transcript of the 911 call will be released as well as the tape, eventually.