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The director of emergency management in Warren County resigned Friday in the wake of an investigation of his department after a 911 dispatcher was accused of sleeping just prior to answering a call in a high-profile murder case.
Frank R. Young, 53 had worked for the county for more than 20 years. His resignation takes effect on Tuesday.
Young, who lives in Hamilton Township, was not in the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.
His resignation came two days after county officials revealed that dispatcher Ron Kronenberger apparently came out of a sound sleep and wasn’t making sense when he answered the 911 call of Ryan Widmer reporting his wife Sarah’s drowning in their bathtub in 2008.
Widmer was convicted of murder for killing his wife but was granted a new trial for reasons unrelated to Kronenberger’s actions. His murder conviction was set aside because of juror misconduct.
County commissioners would not say directly that Young was forced out but hinted that he was.
“It don’t take a rocket scientist to review the surroundings of this situation,” Commissioner Mike Kilburn said.
Commissioner Dave Young (no relation to Frank Young) was irate this week when he found out that dispatchers may have been sleeping on the job and especially that the Widmer case was involved.
He questioned why it took nearly six months for communications center officials to investigate the allegation against Kronenberger when it surfaced in a training session in April.
Frank Young notified County Administrator Dave Gully about the investigation in late August, according to county records. Commissioners didn’t learn about it until Gully shared a report of that investigation earlier this week.
“They told Gully they were investigating disciplinary problems inside of there, including with Ron Kronenberg. But no one said, ‘And by the way, it relates to a murder trial call,’” Dave Young said Friday.
Commissioners have since called for hiring an independent consultant to conduct a management review of the communications center and to install security cameras at the dispatch center.
“I think I’ve been pretty public saying what was going on in the dispatch center was not acceptable. Some of those things border on ridiculous,” Dave Young said. “We said there were going to be changes at the communications center, and we are accepting Frank Young’s resignation.”
In his letter to commissioners, Frank Young said “the time has come to pursue other goals in my life.”
He apologized for the short notice and said, “I believe this step is a positive one for all.”
He recognized his staff as “the finest people in the world.”
“Without their friendship, support and daily understanding my job would have been much more difficult,” he wrote.
Gully said Frank Young, who made $76,141.26 a year, will be paid about $12,000 for accumulated sick and vacation time. The county also has agreed to continue his health and life insurance benefits through the end of the year.
Gully has recommended that commissioners appoint John Bruce – former West Chester police chief who had problems of his own before he left that job – as interim director of Warren County Emergency Management Services effective Tuesday. Bruce’s annual salary would be $75,000.
Commissioners will have to vote on the resignation and the appointment during their next scheduled meeting Tuesday.
Bruce stepped down from West Chester Police Department’s top position last December after he was part of an internal investigation suggesting he told his nephew, who was applying for an officer’s position, and a potential police cadet to lie about past drug use and minor scrapes with the law.
Bruce denied any wrongdoing and a report found that he had not violated township policy.
However, the Fraternal Order of Police issued a no-confidence vote a month before his resignation. Members questioned Bruce’s ethical standards and raised concerns about how his actions would affect public perception of the department.