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Sometimes, 911 dispatchers deal with strange but simple situations (like a strip club customer furious he was kicked out after he claimed his penis "accidentally" came out). Other times, they're dealing with the most intense and scary incidents possible.
“My husband is being kind of violent. He’s trashing the house.” A frantic woman made that call to the Chagrin Valley Dispatch, a communications center covering the greater Cleveland area. “Now he’s got his gun,” she told the dispatcher.
What can you do to avoid anyone getting hurt? Oxygen’s fast-paced and gripping documentary series, “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c and 10/9c, captures the seasoned dispatch team in action on this potentially deadly, constantly shifting crisis.
Talking with the distraught wife, dispatcher Arnold Rinas determined that the couple was outside their house and that her husband had a stash of more firearms inside. The gunman was threatening to shoot police who arrived on the scene.
“This is a very serious call,” Rinas told producers following the situation. “This is not a one- or two-car or even a three-car response. Everybody working is going to this call. If they’re on something else, it gets dropped.”
Officers were told of the threats and a neighboring house was evacuated. At this point, Laura Svoboda, a supervisor with 30 years of experience, spoke with the man and tried to get him to talk with officers. When she asks him to put down his gun, he responded “It doesn’t work that way, baby.”
Dispatcher Andy Watkins’ attempts to speak with the man to determine what he wanted proved to be fruitless. “You want to play f--king games with me? Don’t f--k with me,” he said before hanging up.
“When we lost contact with him, I thought for sure something bad was going to happen,” Svoboda told producers. “Either he was going to shoot his wife, the officers, or himself.”
After several hours of negotiating with a SWAT team on the scene, they were able to get the man to come out with his hands up. “Knowing that this guy is in custody is such a relief,” said dispatcher Kailey Hull. “This was a very emotional roller-coaster, but we made it to the end and everyone is safe.”
Chagrin Valley dispatchers also handled high-stakes calls involving a mom and son who are shot at and a 10-year-old whose mother has a seizure. To learn more about these calls, the dispatchers and more, watch “911 Crisis Center,” airing airing Saturdays at 9/8c and 10/9c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.
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