Kyle Plush's Father: 911's Lack Of Appropriate Response 'Could Happen To You'

Dec 10, 2018

Kyle Plush's family say they're still searching for answers to questions about Cincinnati's response to the incident where the 16-year-old died after getting trapped in his minivan at the Seven Hills School.

City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee got an update on the action plan to fix the emergency communications center Monday.

Plush called 911 twice on April 10 seeking help. But a series of failures described by consultants as a "perfect storm" meant responding officers were never able to locate him. His father, Ron, found him about six hours after the first 911 call was made.

A city investigation and reviews by two independent firms made a number of recommendations for changes, but didn't lay blame on any city employees.

Ron Plush, reading a statement to the media after the meeting, said the family is concerned that eight months after Kyle's death, the same thing could happen again.

"If you call 911 today, the lack of appropriate response that occurred on April 10 could happen to you or someone you love today," Plush said. "The citizens of Cincinnati deserve to know the response failures so taxpayer money can be spent fixing the problems and making policy changes that will make sure something like this does not happen to you or someone you love."

The family had expressed concern last month that the people doing the independent reviews didn't re-interview the police officers and some of the emergency communications center staff working during the incident.

The family and some council members had asked that the interviews take place.

But Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney told the committee the bargaining units representing those employees are telling them not to answer any more questions.

"There was an investigation and the investigation has closed and discipline has been rendered," Duhaney said. "It's not practice for the city to re-open investigations after decisions have been rendered, and it will open us up to grievance liability and possibly an adverse finding if the unions grieve, which they said they will grieve it."

The Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police membership recently voted to ask city council to stop any further investigation of the Kyle Plush incident.

Meanwhile, city officials told the committee Monday that an action plan with about 70 recommendations is being implemented to improve the emergency communications center.

Duhaney said there's been significant progress so far.

"Improvements include upgrades to mission critical technology, improved hiring, staffing and training opportunities, and process improvements that have led to drastic improvements in call response time."

Even with a focus on hiring and staffing, the center is still short 15 dispatchers and 12 call takers. Officials said they're working to reduce the number of vacancies and have made changes to the applicant screening process to help with that.

Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Christopher Smitherman said "there is more work to do, and this is not over."

Smitherman is asking officials to return to his committee in February to provide another update on the communications center action plan.