A dispatcher from Erie County, New York was recently fired after hanging up on an individual who called during the Buffalo attack on May 14th.
According to the Daily Mail, an assistant manager at the Tops Friendly Market named Latisha Rogers was able to call 911 from her office as the deadly incident began, but failed to receive assistance from the dispatcher she was connected with. Instead, former dispatcher Sheila E. Ayers responded to Rogers’s requests for help by asking why Rogers was whispering, then hanging up.
To quote Rogers, “I called 911, I go through the whole operator and everything, the dispatcher comes on and I’m whispering to her and I said Miss, please send help to 1275 Jefferson there is a shooter in the store. She proceeded in a very nasty tone and says I can’t hear you, why are you whispering, you don’t have to whisper, they can’t hear you, so I continued to whisper and I said ma’am he’s still in the store, he’s still shooting! I’m scared for my life, please send help. Out of nervousness, my phone fell out of my hand, she said something I couldn’t make out, and then the phone hung up.”
Ayers’s behavior is in direct contradiction to policy that dispatchers are supposed to follow. According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, local dispatchers are trained to treat whispering callers as if they are in immediate danger. As Poloncarz bluntly stated, “The 911 operator was inappropriate.”
The news of Ayers’s termination came after weeks of internal investigations. However, the official transcript and audio of the phone call are still yet to be released to the general public. It is also unlikely that the public will ever obtain further insight into the specific situation since Section 308.4 of New York county law explicitly states that 911 calls “shall not be made available to or obtained by any entity or person, other than that municipality’s public safety agency, another government agency or body, or a private entity or a person providing medical, ambulance or other emergency services.”