Laziness isn’t the most attractive quality to have, especially when it comes to getting and keeping a job. But depending on what your job is, being lazy and careless can actually land you behind bars.
After getting a job at a 911 call center, a Texas woman was literally responsible for the lives and safety of those who called her for help in times of emergencies. However, now that woman is going to jail because of the way she responded to thousands of calls.
The First Day
On July 7, 2014, Crenshanda Williams was hired and started her first day as a 911 telecommunicator at the Houston Emergency Center in Houston, Texas. But before Williams started answering calls, she underwent training. During the initial training, she was shown how to properly answer distress calls.
The Training Begins
During training, Williams also learned just how important her new job was. Since most people call 911 in times of extreme emergencies, people’s lives were literally on the line. Like other 911 operators, she was somewhat responsible for the safety and well-being of all the people whose calls she would answer in the future.
An Important Job
In the beginning, Williams seemed to take her responsibilities seriously. She spent each shift at the call center answering endless emergency and non-emergency calls while working at all hours of the day. However, at some point, that all changed.
A Careless Employee
At some point, Williams started caring less about her job and the responsibilities that went along with it. She also started caring less about the desperate people who called her begging for help. Eventually, she barely listened to what the callers were saying.
Endangering Innocent Lives
By the fall of 2015, Williams cared so little about the endless emergencies that she actually started intentionally hanging up on callers. By refusing to do her job properly, Williams was actually putting innocent citizens in more danger. Thankfully, her bosses eventually noticed what was going on.
The Call Logs
While supervisors were reviewing their staff’s call logs, they couldn’t help but notice something strange. Williams’ call log had an abnormally high amount of “short calls.” At emergency centers, “short calls” is a term used to describe calls that last less than 20 seconds.
An Investigation Begins
The supervisors suspected that Williams, one of the very people who are supposed to be there for people in their time of need, was intentionally hanging up on callers. So the supervisors began an investigation into Williams. What they found was extremely disturbing.
Between October 2015 and March 2016, Williams had been involved in thousands of short calls. What was more concerning, however, was the fact that Most of those calls had been disconnected by Williams. The supervisors immediately contacted the police and told them what they found.
A Formal Investigation
The Houston Police Department began their own investigation in April 2016. After reviewing the evidence, they agreed that Williams appeared to be intentionally hanging up on 911 callers. As a result, they decided to bring Williams in to talk about the matter and hear what she had to say about the accusations.
However, when Williams spoke to police about the calls, her response didn’t help her case. Instead of making up an excuse, Williams told the police that she just didn’t want to talk to anyone when she would hang up on callers. She also explained that she didn’t feel like talking to people in distress.
Considering most calls are about robberies, murders, and other crimes, most people who call 911 are in distress. However, the police were even more disturbed by Williams’ lack of remorse. During all the interviews, Williams never felt bad about what she did or the consequences of those actions.
The Damage is Done
Williams’ bosses at the Houston Emergency Center had no choice but to fire Williams in August 2016. However, the damage had already been done. And and in the wake of her firing, the gravity of the situation was brought to light by citizens who were hung up on as they tried to get help.
A Medical Emergency
According to Buster Pendley, Williams hung up on him when he called for help after his wife collapsed. A blood clot had moved to her lungs and she needed medical attention as soon as possible. “She was gasping and I could feel her heart beating out of her chest, but I couldn’t get a pulse,” Pendley told CBS News. “The 911 operator answered the phone, and she said, ‘This is Crenshanda, may I help you?’ Wife’s passed out I need an ambulance,” Pendley said. “She said OK, and she hangs up on me.”
Luckily, Pendley called 911 again and his wife was saved in time. But others weren’t so lucky. On March 12, Hua Li called 911 to report that a store was being robbed by an armed man. “They just said, ‘This is 911. How can I help you?’ I was trying to finish my sentence, and we got disconnected,” Li told Click2Houston. By the time help finally did arrive, the store manager had been shot and killed.
“Ain’t nobody got time for this.”
On March 13, Williams answered another call from a security guard. The man was trying to report two drivers that were drag racing and driving recklessly. However, Williams hung up on the security guard before he could even tell her his name. In the audio recording from the call, Williams can be heard saying “Ain’t nobody got time for this. For real,” after dropping the call.
As a result of her carelessness and negligence, Williams was charged with two counts of interference with an emergency telephone call. If she was found guilty and convicted of those charges, Williams faced a year in prison and a $4,000 fine for each charge.
“The citizens of Harris County rely on 911 operators to dispatch help in their time of need. When a public servant betrays the community’s trust and breaks the law, we have a responsibility to hold them criminally accountable,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder said in a statement regarding the disturbing situation.
In April 2018, the 44-year-old was found guilty of interference with emergency telephone calls. As a result, she was sentenced to 10 days in jail. After that, she would be on probation for 18 months. Sadly, however, this isn’t the first time a 911 operator had been punished for hanging up on callers and putting citizens in danger.
A Disturbing Trend
In 2006, 911 dispatcher Sharon Nichols refused to listen to a 5-year-old boy who she told to stop playing on the phone. In reality, however, the boy’s mother, Sherrill Turner, had collapsed and needed immediate medical attention. Because Nichols wouldn’t listen to the 5-year-old boy and hung up, his mother died before officials finally arrived at the home.
A Warning to 911 Operators
As a result, Sherrill’s family filed a wrongful death suit. In the end, Nichols was sentenced to a year of probation and 15 days of community service. “I think the sentencing was fair,” said Prosecutor Lora Weingarden. “When she’s not serving as a 911 operator she’s not a danger to anybody. … I hope that it makes every 911 operator in the city and across the country think real hard before dismissing a call as a prank.”