A former emergency operator in Texas was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months probation for hanging up on thousands of 911 calls.
The prosecution states that Williams systematically hung up on thousands of people trying to report emergencies, including homicides, robberies, and reckless drivers. Prosecutors also claim that Williams told investigators that she often hung up because she did not want to talk to anybody at those times.
Williams worked for the Houston Emergency Center for a period of 18 months, ending in 2016. Attention was drawn to Williams when supervisors observed an abnormally high number of “short calls”, typically defined as those lasting less than 20 seconds.
A database at the center which tracks who disconnected a call – the operator, the caller, or both – showed that Williams regularly hung up on thousands of callers.
Whether intentional or not, failures, disconnects, and lack of communication by emergency dispatches are not as uncommon as we may like to believe.
As recently as last month, an Ohio teenager died in the back of a Honda Odyssey after becoming trapped in the rear well under the third-row seat.
Records show that the teenager called 911 multiple times using Siri, providing dispatch with his location and a detailed description of his vehicle; however, his first call was disconnected, and information provided during the second call was not relayed to officers at the scene.
In June, a dispatcher allegedly hung up on an emergency call dealing with a New Mexico teen who was shot while at a party. The teen died of his wounds, and a lawsuit has been filed against the dispatcher.
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