FIRST ON 3: Hamilton County 911 fires two dispatchers
Hamilton County's Emergency Communications District has fired two 911 dispatchers for breaking the rules. One for pending criminal charges. The other for revealing confidential information regarding police operations.
Thursday, January 24th 2013, 7:40 PM EST
Friday, January 25th 2013, 9:00 AM EST
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- The Hamilton County Emergency Communications District requires 911 dispatchers pass extensive background checks prior to hire.
So Executive Director John Stuermer says he was 'shocked and disappointed' to learn that one dispatcher faces criminal charges in East Ridge and that supervisors suspected another of revealing confidential police information.
Both were fired Thursday afternoon.
Stephanie B.H. Fletcher, 29, of Hixson used her middle and married name, Brooke Honeycutt, in her work as a dispatcher. Friday January East Ridge police arrested her on charges of burglary and theft after a man and woman reported seeing a woman break into their cars. The District suspended her with pay.
Honeycutt-Fletcher appeared in East Ridge Municipal Court Tuesday. Her case has been continued until March 19.
Though she's not been convicted, her charges were the basis for firing her following her disciplinary hearing, Stuermer says.
"She has a right to appeal (her termination), so I can't go into the details of why we took it that course of action," Stuermer continues. "But it is something we have the right to do. And it's the proper thing to do for the citizens of Hamilton County,"
Honeycutt-Fletcher was among ten operators suspended (1 was fired) last Spring after an investigation into alleged misuse of the 'chat-box' function of the District's telecommunications equipment.
The 'chat-box' is an 'instant text messaging' system that allows dispatchers/operators to summon help from one another or from supervisors. Instead, internal investigators found evidence that Honeycutt-Fletcher and the others were violating the District's policies and Code of Conduct by 'talking shop'; everything from District business, to disparaging comments about one another, their supervisors and the taxpayers and emergency responders they serve.
Fletcher-Honeycutt was suspended without pay for three days for Misuse of District Equipment and Unbecoming Conduct.
By contrast, dispatcher Amy Clark, 22, of Harrison, is accused of taking shop talk out-of-house.
Stuermer confirms that Clark had been suspended without pay January 12 after a supervisor observed her texting 'proprietary, confidential information' regarding a police investigation into narcotics.
"It was information about a specific drug location that she communicated with some people about," Stuermer tells Channel 3.
Clark joined the District five months ago. She had not completed her probationary period, so she lacks any right of appeal to her termination.
Channel 3 attempted to reach Clark prior to her disciplinary hearing, and following her termination. She has not responded.
Stuermer would not comment on what explanations, if any, either woman offered for the conduct alleged.
"We're disappointed, because it's hard to find people who can do this work," Stuermer says.
"The issue is, once they're hired, people do strange and stupid things. And unfortunately that's the case in these two instances."