Suing emergency services for defective performance of their functions is difficult-to-impossible in most jurisdictions. However, this does not exclude sanctions for criminally poor performance.
Crenshanda Williams was employed as a call taker by the Houston Emergency Centre. For reasons which are unclear, she hung up on thousands of 911 phone calls, including calls relating to robbery and illegal street racing. According to one report she dismissed a caller saying “ain’t nobody got time for this”. She was charged with interfering with emergency telephone calls. Texas Penal Code §42.062(a) says –
An individual commits an offense if the individual knowingly prevents or interferes with another individual’s ability to place an emergency call or to request assistance, including a request for assistance using an electronic communications device, in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals.
This crime is punishable by up to a year’s imprisonment or a $4,000.00 fine.
Ms Williams was convicted by a jury in the Harris County Criminal Court. Clinton J sentenced her to 10 days imprisonment and 18 months probation.
An appeal has been lodged.
State v Williams (2018), Houston Chronicle, 18 April 2018