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Former 911 dispatcher questions leadership of city manager

Former Cincinnati Dispatcher Elizabeth Christenson said City Manager Harry Black’s management of the 911 center “poses a threat” to public safety


By EMS1 Staff

CINCINNATI — A former 911 dispatcher who quit claimed that the city manager “poses a threat” to public safety due to his mismanagement of the 911 center.

According to her exit interview memo, Elizabeth Christenson raised concerns about the 911 center operations to city manager Harry Black, who then “angrily lashed out” at her, according to Cincinnati.com.

Christenson said he then threatened her job and said “he would find somebody who could” do her job if she could not.

The memo said that when she later went to Black’s office, he did not offer an apology, but asked her for a hug.

"Not knowing what to say, I agreed," she wrote. "While I did agree to the hug, it was horribly uncomfortable as it was unprofessional," Christenson said.

 

Christenson also highlighted issues at the 911 center, describing it as a “dumping ground for sergeants that did not fit in the field” and saying 50 percent of the employees do not have adequate experience.

She added that the officers and civilian employees do not get along while running critical lifesaving technology.

Christenson filed a complaint with her union, but did not make a formal complaint to the city because she said she was afraid her husband, who also works for the city, would lose his job.

"Because Mr. Black had threatened my job and the jobs of others, I was deeply afraid of what could happen if I said anything officially," Christenson said.

Upon hearing about the incident, Mayor John Cranley demanded that Black address the issues.

"Obviously, given the life and death nature of 911, either rebutting or resolving her concerns is critical to public safety and for the public to be informed," Cranley said.

"Some of the decisions have been more popular than others, but all were necessary, and made in a quick and decisive manner in order to improve 911 call taking," Black said in a statement. "As you can imagine, what I find most troubling is the insinuation by Ms. Christenson that I hugged her at the end of the meeting and made her feel uncomfortable. I sincerely apologize as this was in no way the intent.”

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