Former Houston 911 operator sentenced to probation for 'systematically' hanging up on people

HOUSTON – A former Houston Emergency Center 911 operator will spend the next 18 months on probation for hanging up on people calling for emergency services, prosecutors said Wednesday. 

Crenshanda Williams, 44, worked as a 911 operator for a year-and-a-half, ending in 2016, according to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office. During that time, she systematically hung up on people who were trying to report emergencies.  She ended up on her supervisors’ radar due to an “abnormally large number of ‘short calls’” identified. "Short calls" are incoming calls with a duration of less than 20 seconds. Ogg's office said the recording database also keeps a report of who disconnects the call: the caller, the call-taker, or both. Records revealed that thousands of short calls -- from reports of robberies to homicides to speeding vehicles -- were attributed to Williams hanging up.

When questioned about the short calls, Ogg’s office said in a news release that Williams told investigators she often hung up because she did not want to talk to anyone at those times. 

Williams’ three-day trial ended on Wednesday with jurors finding her guilty of interference with emergency telephone calls - a misdemeanor offense. 

A judge sentenced her to 18 months’ probation, and 10 days in jail as a condition.

“The citizens of Harris County rely on 911 operators to dispatch help in their time of need.” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder said.  “When a public servant betrays the community’s trust and breaks the law, we have a responsibility to hold them criminally accountable.”

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.