September 18, 2013 - Oxford Village President Pro-Tem Dave Bailey was in the hot seat last week for comments he made at the Aug. 27 council meeting regarding the Oakland County Sheriff's Department dispatch center and its performance.
A request for a public apology was made by Undersheriff Mike McCabe, who lives in Oxford Township, and even Bailey's fellow council members were critical of his remarks.
"I'll tell you, sir, you did us a disservice and you insulted every dispatcher in that dispatch center," said McCabe, who reviewed a video copy of the meeting provided by Oxford Community Television.
"I'm sure your mother told you – my mother told me – if you don't have anything good to say about somebody, don't say anything at all," the undersheriff told Bailey. "And sir, if you had something negative to say about us to build up the dispatch center here, that's the wrong way to go about it, in my opinion.
"You can do whatever you want. You're an elected official. I'm just telling you, I've lived in this community for 11 years, I've never seen anything like what you did two weeks ago."
McCabe responded to Bailey's remarks in a point-by-point manner.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, Bailey said, "I think that unnecessary death is more likely to happen to us if we're with the county than if we're with our own people . . . I can't help it. That's just the way I feel."
"Sir, I take great offense to that and I think you owe all 60 dispatchers in our dispatch center a public apology," McCabe said. "All of our dispatchers have read your quotes. They're not happy about them."
McCabe challenged Bailey's statements regarding the county losing calls.
"I believe that in the case of a large center, such as Oakland County, Dispatcher A can think that Dispatcher B has the call and vice versa. I have seen myself . . . cases that looked an awful lot like a call falling though the cracks at the dispatch center in Pontiac. I saw it," Bailey said at the Aug. 27 meeting.
"Everything is computerized in our dispatch center," McCabe said. "We don't drop calls. We don't lose calls. And we can prove that through the computer system."
The undersheriff noted there are times when a cell phone call is dropped because the caller enters an area with weak or no wireless coverage.
"That happens in our dispatch center. It happens in your dispatch center. And it happens in every dispatch center in America," McCabe said.
Although Bailey did not originally state where he witnessed this county call "falling through the cracks," McCabe assumed it was during a tour of the county dispatch center that village officials took last year.
"Sir, when you took that dispatch tour, if you had a question and you thought you saw something fall through, all you had to do was ask (the dispatch supervisor)," the undersheriff said. "Apparently, you didn't take advantage of that situation."
Bailey addressed the comments concerning him having witnessed a "messed up" call, as he put it, handled by county dispatch.
"(McCabe) was assuming that my observation occurred during a guided tour of their facility," he said. "That was incorrect. I was monitoring the dispatch from a different location. And so, his observation that on the guided tour there were no malfunctions is correct.
"But his claiming that I was essentially wrong when I said that there had been a malfunction is incorrect. I was with (Oxford Village Police Officer) David Churchill at the time. We both heard the same thing. I asked him later, 'Was I seeing things and hearing things or did that really happen?' He said, 'No, it really happened.' Our recollection agreed on what had happened and it was a messed up call."
Churchill did not return a call seeking comment.
McCabe also responded to Bailey's belief that there's an advantage to having a single dispatcher on duty as opposed to a center with multiple dispatchers.
Bailey previously stated that "a call cannot fall through the cracks if there's one dispatcher there."
"I'll tell you, sir, you're dead wrong," McCabe said. "If a single dispatcher has nine calls coming in at once and there's an accident out on Main Street, that dispatcher can only answer one call at a time. So, lots of calls can fall through the cracks in a single dispatcher system."
McCabe wasn't the only one critical of Bailey.
"I just think it is terrible what you did," said Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn. "The sheriff's department, I've dealt with them for 14 years. They are a class act. They were invited to come to this community. They weren't trying to go out and look for business. They are invited into communities.
"And again, what you said was terrible. You're an elected official who is my representative. I live in the village along with 3,500 other people and it was a disgrace the way that you treated the Oakland County Sheriff's Department."
Dunn noted that the village police dispatch center is not without its troubles, but he doesn't publicly criticize them.
"Mr. Bailey, I hate to tell you this, but your dispatch has screwed up a couple times, a few times," Dunn said. "One thing I don't do is go to the public and blurt it out. What I do is I get a hold of (Police) Chief (Mike) Neymanowski and get a hold of (village Manager Joe) Young, we sit down in dispatch and we work it out. We have done that in the past and it's worked fine."
"Based on what I just heard, I concur. Shame on you," said Bryan Cloutier to Bailey.
Cloutier was appointed to the village council that evening and is the director of the Oxford Public Library.
Even Bailey's fellow council members criticized him for his remarks.
"I do agree, at the last council meeting, I think you were a little out of line with your comments towards county," said Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth. "I also think (Under)sheriff McCabe was a little out of line with some of his things today."
"I kind of have to echo (Helmuth's) comment about some of your remarks at the last council meeting," said Councilwoman Sue Bossardet. "And that's all I'm going to say on it."
Bailey responded to McCabe's comments at the end of the council meeting.
"I wanted to ask where did he get the quotes from in which he quoted things that he said that I had said," Bailey said. "I would have hoped that he got the quotes from either a video tape or an audio (recording) of the council meeting. I suspect he got the quotes from somewhere else. If so, they may be inaccurate. And in fact, I believe that some of them were inaccurate."
It was pointed out to Bailey that McCabe stated he watched a video of the meeting.
"I have seen videos be in error," Bailey said. "I have compared the audio tape to the video tape (of meetings) and sometimes they were both clear and the words were different."
"Just admit you were wrong," Cloutier said.
"Just admit you're wrong and move on," Dunn said.
"I'm not talking about this issue," Bailey replied. "I'm talking about another time when I was comparing audio and video and I needed to use both of them. And in fact, I still didn't know which was right. They were both very clear and the words were different."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.