AUSTIN, Texas. The job of a 911 dispatcher is difficult. Not only are they required to take calls from people experiencing some of the most challenging and life-altering moments of their lives, but they often have to take many calls from concerned citizens who are making police reports based on race. When a dispatcher believes that a call is being made based on race, they still must send police to the scene. If they fail to do so, and something happens, they can face negligence charges. Yet, dispatchers also have a responsibility to document the nature of the call. If they fail to note a naissance call as such, they could also be found responsible if officers act with excessive force.
For example, in the case of the tragic police shooting of Tamir Rice, the 911 dispatcher faced 8 days of suspension because she had “violated protocol.” According to the Chicago Tribune, the dispatcher was told that the person holding the “gun” may be a juvenile and the dispatcher was told that it was possible that the gun was fake. However, this information was not conveyed to police, which affected how police responded to the call.
According to Vox, when a dispatcher receives a call, the dispatcher can include a code NFD, for No Further Details. When a dispatcher receives a call that appears to involve an unfounded complaint, often dispatchers will include this code as a way to help police understand the nature of the call. Dispatchers can also prioritize calls. So, when they receive calls that appear to be racially motivated or based on a person’s race, they can give the calls lower priority.
Yet, dispatchers can’t make a decision about whether or not they send out police. They also cannot control how police react to calls once they are sent out. While dispatchers sometimes have discretion in who they send out—a call for a person having a mental health crisis can involve a different dispatch crew than a call for a person who is believed to be in danger—at the end of the day, the actions of police are independent from dispatchers. Still, dispatcher’s words are on the public record and anything they say and do can be used against them. If a person is injured or hurt as a result of their negligence, they can face consequences.
While a dispatcher’s job is tough, it is important that they do their job right. If a person is in physical danger, the instructions they provide over the phone can save or end a life. If the information they provide is flawed or wrong, people can die or be seriously injured.
If you or a loved one was hurt and you believe that another person’s negligence or neglect may have played a role, you may have rights under the law. Visit the Robson Law Firm, personal injury lawyers in Austin, Texas today to learn more. You may be entitled to seek damages for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us at https://robsonlawfirm.com/ to learn about how we may be able to help.
Robson Law Firm
1114 Lost Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 345-8200