City hires 2 firms to investigate police, 911 center response to Kyle Plush

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati city leaders have hired two firms to conduct independent investigations into the police and 911 center response to Kyle Plush. The results are expected to be out in the fall.

Money also is being allocated right now to purchased a mapping system for cruisers, the city's acting city manager announced Monday in the latest public hearing as officials push for reforms in light of the 16-year-old's death.

The mapping system could have pinpointed Kyle's location for Cincinnati police officers as they responded to Seven Hills School in Madisonville when he twice called 911 pleading for help April 10, when he became trapped under the third-row, rear seat of his van.

The Cincinnati Fire Department has had the mapping system since December 2016.

City officials selected Mission Critical Partners to lead an independent investigation into the 911 center's response to Kyle's calls and their response to all calls in general. They will start their investigation June 26.

Another company, 21CP, will review the police response the day Kyle died, They said they were starting their investigation immediately following the hearing.

City Council did not discuss this morning what that probes would cost, but Smitherman estimated the results would not be out until the fall, likely October.

Council is expected to meet to talk about the budget Monday afternoon.

Ron Plush found his son dead inside the family's gold Honda Odyssey van in the school parking lot more than 5 1/2 hours after Kyle called 911 for help. He yelled out "Hey, Siri" because his phone was in his pocket at the time he became trapped.

The Hamilton County Coroner has ruled Kyle's death as asphyxia due to chest compression.

In his first 911 call, Kyle said "help" several times and said he was trapped in his van outside the school. He also said: "I'm gonna die here."

The dispatcher had Kyle's location through GPS coordinates from his cell phone and saw a map showing the parking lot his van was in. That map could have directed police officers to within five to 10 feet of where Kyle's body was eventually found.

Instead, the two officers who responded for a report of "unknown trouble" searched several parking lots and did not get out of their cars or ask the 911 center for more information about Kyle's location, officials have revealed. The officers also never saw the map the dispatchers had.

Kyle's warning that he was going to die was not given to officers, police officials have said. They thought they were looking for an elderly woman locked in her vehicle.

In his second call, Kyle gave a detailed description of the van and his location.

"I probably don't have much time left to tell my mom that I love her if I die. This is not a joke. This is not a joke. I'm trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the sophomore Parking lot of Seven Hills … Send officers immediately. I'm almost dead. Seven Hills… Seven Hills."

But the 911 operator who took that call said she couldn't hear him, a city record shows. Her computer system also froze.

That's because, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney said Monday, her computer crashed due to a Windows failure. Other dispatchers took 911 calls without issue during that time.

"There was no catastrophic failure of the CAD system," he said.

Now, all call takers will be required to report all issues immediately to supervisors, he said.

Ron Plush addressed Council Monday. He thanked the city and police department for all the work they have done so far on his son's case and providing questions to his answers.

The last time they met to discuss Kyle's death and reforms needed to improve police response and the 911 center, Plush asked city officials to look into the time between when the officers shut off their body cameras and appeared on security camera at the school.

Duhaney said officers drove on the east side of Red Bank Road past the tennis court and soccer field. They reached a dead end, and turned around and went back. Then, they met up with a Hamilton County deputy sheriff who was at the school on an unrelated traffic detail and discussed Kyle's 911 all.

But, he said, there is still work to be done to avoid another future tragedy.

He presented his own slideshow again Monday and put up a list of expectations the family has:

  • We need to continue to insist on transparency in everything that we do
  • We need to be open to change
  • We have to have the willingness to think differently
  • We can’t gloss over problems and bury our heads in the sand
  • We need to continue to ask the difficult questions
  • When we say we are going to do something then we need to do it. Accountability is mandatory and “not a nice to have.”
  • We need to continue to ask the 5 Why’s and not stop until we get to the root cause. We are getting better but we still need improvement in this area
  • Start stating specific facts vs generalities. An example of this is to stop using vehicle, or car, in correspondence relating to the events of 4/10. The call taker, dispatcher, and responding officers knew they were looking for  van
  • We can't be afraid to ask for help. First we should leverage internal resources and then seek external help as a next step
  • We need to elevate issues when warranted (History of things being ignored is no longer acceptable)
  • We need to establish a method for personnel to “safely” communicate concerns that are being ignored without retaliated from management
  • Some fixes will be quick and others will take time. We need to recognize this and not get frustrated. At the same time we  need to take action where we can help compress timelines. The key thing is to always remember is that lives are at stake as we continue the quest to improve the Emergency Response Process
  • When we say we are going to do something immediately, what does that mean? The dictionary defines that “at once” or “instantly” and not within 30 days or some other timeframe
  • Please remember that we are all in this together and we will succeed as a unified group

Then Plush referred to a FOX19 NOW story that he said "I think is very relevant here."

It's a story we reported Friday about a police memo we obtained showing striking similarities between police and dispatch response to his son's 911 calls and their response to a shooting reported by a construction worker that turned out to be a homicide in Walnut Hills in January 2017.

Ron Push choked up as he began to read the story before quickly regaining his composure.

"We can't continue to bury our heads in the stand. We need to make change," Plush said.

"It was very disturbing to hear this on Friday and to know that there is a history of this. Again, we can't change this, but we can change what happens in the future. So I ask everyone in this room: Council, Cincinnati Police Department, everybody that is involved that we continue to push forward and make these changes.

"Because what I don't want to have happen is a year in a half from now, a  new story is released about this incident and the fact that nothing was done. And I will guarantee you that that will not happen because we will continue to be here and we will continue to work with the powers that to be to get things changed."

Another hearing over 911 reforms and Kyle's death is set for June 25. That will be the final meeting until Council returns from recess in the fall.

The results won't be out until September or October, Smitherman predicted.

Ready the overview presented by the Plush family to council members here:

Copyright 2018 WXIX. All rights reserved.