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Cleveland 911 operator reprimanded for response to kidnap survivor

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The 911 operator who answered the now-famous May 6th call from one of the women held for a decade by Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro was reprimanded on Friday for hanging up on her before police arrived.

Public criticism was leveled against the operator's seemingly unsympathetic tone with the very excited Amanda Berry, once the audio of the call was made public by authorities.

Berry made the call to police after she and her 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro, were rescued with the help of neighbors four months ago. Police then found Michelle Knight, who was abducted in 2002 and Gina DeJesus, abducted in 2004, in the home.

Castro, who pleaded guilty in August to raping, kidnapping and torturing the women, was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell Tuesday night. His body has since been claimed by his family who are planning a private service and burial for the man who was one month into a prison term of life plus 1,000 years.

According to a disciplinary letter sent to four-year veteran dispatcher Jack Purdy, the City of Cleveland found he "improperly handled a 911 call from a kidnap victim and failed to remain on the line with the victim until responding officers arrived on the scene."

The dispatcher had pleaded "no contest" at a hearing last month. On Friday, he was informed that a letter of discipline would be placed in the his personnel file for three years.

Bureau of Communications Commander Thomas Stacho said in the letter to Purdy that he could have demonstrated "more empathy and could have been more compassionate in your dealing with Ms. Berry."

In a recording of the 911 call, Berry is heard telling the operator, "I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now," and seemingly pleading with the operator "I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years," with the dispatcher responding, "I got, I got that, dear."

"Without question, you should have kept her on the line as I believe that that simple, required act would have enhanced her sense of safety," Stacho said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Ken Wills)

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