911 operator sentenced for hanging up on callers

Crenshanda Williams Houston Police Department 911 operator

The former Houston emergency operator has been sentenced to 10 days in prison, followed by an 18-month probation period for refusing to take thousands of calls. The manager in charge of the 911 operators said Williams was an anomaly and other operators did not hang up on people in need. During that time, she systematically hung up on people who were trying to report emergencies.

Williams' misdeeds were uncovered in Augusts 2016 after a Houston Emergency Center supervisor performed an audit on all calls being handled by the facility. It showed that thousands of calls shorter than 20 seconds were attributed to her hanging up, the court heard.

The calls included one where a caller tried to report a violent robbery, and another where a caller dialed 911 concerned about two drivers racing in an area on Interstate 45 where people had been killed speeding just weeks earlier.

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Williams' attorney, Franklin Bynum, said the case revealed what he called "systematic" problems at the Houston Emergency Center and chalked up Williams' behavior to her experiencing "a hard time in her life". Ms Williams hung up because at those times she did not want to talk to anyone, she told investigators.

She was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months of probation.

A grand jury found the 44-year-old guilty of interfering with emergency telephone calls - a misdemeanor offense - following a three-day trial that ended Wednesday.

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The Harris County deputies arrested Williams and charged her with interference with emergency phone calls. The recording database also keeps a report of who disconnects the call: the caller, the call-taker, or both.

A Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesperson declared that public servants like Williams should be criminally liable if they deliberately tamper with emergency services.

He does admit she was a poor worker and goes onto say,"But punishing her doesn't do anything to fix the problems that still exist at the emergency center".

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