New Orleans Police Seek Arrest of Dispatcher Under Novel Criminal Charge

New Orleans Police Department

The New Orleans Police Department has put out an arrest warrant for one of its own in a case with an unusual criminal charge.  Precious Stephens, 25, is a police dispatcher who is accused of not recording information or simply hanging up on emergency 911 calls.  After the pattern was discovered, she fled. She is now accused of criminal malfeasance in office and interfering with an emergency communication.

According to the New Orleans Police Department, Stephens deliberately brushed aside or ignored the emergency calls of citizens:

“Working as a 911 operator with the Orleans Parish Communications District at the time, she is wanted for allegedly disconnecting 911 calls deliberately without obtaining necessary emergency information or relaying such emergencies to the other dispatchers for aid,” the NOPD noted in a press release. “The report was taken on August 23, 2021.”

She was ultimately dismissed after an investigation. What followed was relatively rare. She was charged under Louisiana law with malfeasance in office.

What is interesting about the law is how broad the language is.  It not only allows a criminal charge for anyone who intentionally refuses or fails to perform any lawfully required duty, but also allows a charge for permitting any other public employee to fail to do so.

Obviously, this is one of the most serious forms of malfeasance since people could die or be injured as a result. The statute itself reads like criminalized negligence.  It uses the language of criminal scienter in requiring an intentional act. However, it is intent to “refuse or fail to perform” a duty. The mens rea element is merely eliminating involuntary failures like illness or force in the failure to perform. Otherwise, it is simply the intent not to do you job.

Since I have not seen many of these cases, I wanted to share the underlying law.

Here is the provision at LA Rev Stat § 14:134

SUBPART F. OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT AND

CORRUPT PRACTICES

§134. Malfeasance in office

A. Malfeasance in office is committed when any public officer or public employee shall:

(1) Intentionally refuse or fail to perform any duty lawfully required of him, as such officer or employee; or

(2) Intentionally perform any such duty in an unlawful manner; or

(3) Knowingly permit any other public officer or public employee, under his authority, to intentionally refuse or fail to perform any duty lawfully required of him, or to perform any such duty in an unlawful manner.

B. Any duty lawfully required of a public officer or public employee when delegated by him to a public officer or public employee shall be deemed to be a lawful duty of such public officer or employee. The delegation of such lawful duty shall not relieve the public officer or employee of his lawful duty.

C.(1) Whoever commits the crime of malfeasance in office shall be imprisoned for not more than five years with or without hard labor or shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

(2) In addition to the penalty provided for in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, a person convicted of the provisions of this Section may be ordered to pay restitution to the state if the state suffered a loss as a result of the offense. Restitution shall include the payment of legal interest at the rate provided in R.S. 13:4202.

Amended by Acts 1980, No. 454, §1; Acts 2002, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 128, §6; Acts 2010, No. 811, §1, eff. Aug. 15, 2011.

 

22 thoughts on “New Orleans Police Seek Arrest of Dispatcher Under Novel Criminal Charge”

  1. She needs to be jailed for what she has done. Lives were depending on her doing her job, and she put them in jeopardy. Kind of like going to the emergency room for a life-threatening condition, and the doctor brushes you off. She should get the same punishment that that doctor would get.

  2. I see a great future for Precious Stephens in the Biden Administration as Kamala Harris’ personal assistant. Normally, failure to properly perform one’s job will hurt one’s career. But in the Biden Administration failure to properly perform one’s job is a postive virtue and will dramatically advance one’s career. Precious will flourish even more when Kamala Harris becomes President in 2023.

  3. Well when you hire a young dindonuffin minority , a product of goobermint run indoctrination this is what you will get. A pathetic mental midget of zero qualifications. Lack of moral fiber goes right in there. too. Now mind you precious is a product of lifelong goobermint war on poverty & welfare gimme gimme’s. Her decline and fall is almost a predictable certainty . Crap in , crap out. Just what failed teacher unions and big brother want…more sheeple regardless of ethnicity .

  4. I think I managed to post this before the first, “because she’s female and/or black” yahoo joins the thread and somehow connects how Ms. Stephens was forced to hang up because of the Bad Orange Man, or something equally fatuous.

  5. Her behavior could have led to death or serious injury. I wonder if someone died, and the family sued the city.

    A 911 operator is a lifeline to people in desperate situations. We’ve heard moving stories of compassionate 911 operators walking callers through performing CPR, telling them how to stop bleeding, or staying on the phone with scared kids hiding under a bed with a killer in the house.

    Yet there are also stories of callous 911 operators blowing off frantic callers, hanging up on them, laughing at them, or mocking them.

    I cannot find any transcripts of her calls. I was only able to find out that she was investigated for hanging up on people calling for help during Hurricane Ida. The following article on Stephens mentioned one incident, but did not say if the dispatcher was Stephens. This wasn’t a Hurricane Ida call, so I don’t know if this story was indicative of a general problem in the 911 call center, or if it was an earlier story involving Stephens.

    https://meaww.com/precious-stephens-new-orleans-911-dispatcher-arrest-warrant-for-hanging-up-on-callers

    https://meaww.com/911-dispatcher-mother-locks-two-month-old-daughter-car

    “It was a hot August afternoon and Lacey was aware that it wouldn’t be long before her daughter would pass out from the heat. She began trying to break open the windows with a piece of asphalt. At the same time, her grandmother, Mary Riley, called 911 for assistance only to be told that she could not be assisted.

    “It was terrifying. It was like the worst day of my life,” said Lacey speaking to Fox2Detroit. “I was so shocked [thinking] they aren’t coming; I have to get her out of here. Nobody’s coming to help me.”

    The 911 dispatcher who answered the call said that they “don’t unlock vehicles, unfortunately” and offered to transfer them to a tow company instead. “She says, ‘Ma’am, we can’t unlock cars or break windows,'” said Mary. “And then you feel so helpless. All the help we think we’re going to get — the only help we’re going to get — we don’t have it.”

    “She said we have to call a tow company,” Lacey recalled. “I’m like, grandma, we don’t have time to call a tow company. I don’t know how many minutes I have until she passes out.”

    Desperate, they tried calling 911 again but ended up reaching the same dispatcher who once again refused to dispatch help.

    When they called the town’s fire department asking for help, the dispatcher there said that the department “doesn’t come out for that” and instead said she could send over a wrecker service for which they would be charged.

    Finally, Lacey used a tool to break the back window and rescue her daughter.

    “She was really sweaty, screaming, and just drenched in sweat,” Lacey said. “She was probably in there like 10 minutes, so we immediately got her out, got her inside, cooled her down.”

    Mary added: “It’s the most helpless feeling seeing your great grandbaby in there crying, drenched in sweat. We want this corrected. We don’t want anyone to lose their baby because this wasn’t taken care of for us.”

    The news of the incident soon reached the ears of Police Chief Scott Underwood who apologized for the ordeal the family had to go through. “It’s a common sense issue,” he said. “You call 911, you expect for somebody to come and give you some help. And we certainly should have gone and done that. We made a mistake and we need to fix that.”

    Underwood said that the dispatcher who answered the call was a veteran at the job and that she should have known better. He added that she would face disciplinary action and that others would be given more training on how to handle these situations better in the future.”

    1. No, I think the anecdote that MEAWW included was from a different city, and was just an example of how a 911 operator’s negligence can be dangerous.

    2. Isn’t this kind of like Trump mocking Brad Raffensberger’s claims of death threats and intimidation against him and his family when Raffensberger refused to change Biden votes to Trump? It’s actually much worse, because Trump said Raffensberger deserved the death threats.

  6. “. . . simply hanging up on emergency 911 calls.”

    Maybe she is auditioning for a job in Biden’s State Department.

  7. Interesting.

    So, that is why there are courts and judges:

    To reconcile, the wording with the criminal conduct observed. The match between them both, is not at all obvious typically. That is the duty of a judge.

    The point is, that there is no reservation or defense here. One could expect, that avoiding or neglecting certain job, but, one that reasonable person, under reasonable conditions, had to perform or carry out, with no particular obstacles. But, maybe, there are other provisions in that code, that mention sort of defense and reservation or stipulations in this regard. I shall check it later. I am not so sure about that.

    And one should bear in mind. Intention, and in criminal terms, is not intention the way it is perceived ordinarily. Intention in criminal terms, encompasses typically, not wishful thinking or action or results in fact that represent true wish. But, it is sufficient to predict the natural outcome, natural consequences, in order for it, to fall within the scope of intent. That is legal volition, not natural or spontaneous one, as we or layman may perceive it.

    Thanks

  8. This is a silly and meaningless report without citing the types of incident which she blew off. Why was she blowing off certain incidents? Was she protecting a certain class of criminal?

    1. Who cares why she was blowing off 911 callers nor do we need to know if she was protecting any kind of criminal class. They were serious malfeasances in her job performance to warrant an investigation, firing her, then bringing a criminal complaint, which she fled to avoid being arrested. If all this was done to precious Precious, a black female, you can be sure the NLO police had plenty of evidence to support their actions on the misconduct of Precious.

  9. Recently became more conscious of this (given all the press about white privilege), but are blacks disproportionately represented in the mug shots?

    After all the hoopla about how blacks don’t get a fair shake from racist whites, I started keeping an informal count.

    Blacks certainly seem over represented in government service and in the gossip pages.

    And in hate crimes against Asians.

    Are we getting an accurate picture of society?

  10. In section A 1, I believe the word “intentionally” applies (modifies?) to both “refuse” or “fail” to perform the public job. So it barely meets constitutional muster and barely meets the mens rea element..

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