Lawsuit: 911 dispatchers sleep on the job, curse at callers

WATCH: Lawsuits allege discrimination, harassment

BOONE CO., KY (FOX19) - Two lawsuits filed in Boone County on Monday allege practices inside its Public Safety Communications Center could be putting police and public safety at risk.
According to officials, the suits were filed by two veteran dispatchers who make claims of a supervisor sleeping on the job and some emergency calls being handled inappropriately.

One of those calls, provided to FOX19 NOW, depicts and interaction between a dispatcher and a caller over what appears to be a domestic situation.

"Can you please come over my house?  Please!  My wife is acting up," said the caller.

This particular call was made in March, stated reports. 

Dispatcher:  "Listen to me.  Listen to me."
Caller:  "Get somebody over here because if I go to jail it's over!  Get somebody over here now!"
Dispatcher:  "The way you're acting, maybe you need to go jail!"

The call created a serious safety risk for responding officers, according to the lawsuit. It claims the dispatcher's voice on the call is that of a supervisor.

As that call continues, expletives can be heard being exchanged between the dispatcher and the male caller.

Caller:  "Hurry up and get these m*****f****** over here!"
Dispatcher:  "The m*****f****** will be there in just a minute."

"My understanding is there's a lot of different calls like that, specifically related to minority callers that are treated very unprofessionally," said an attorney for the dispatchers, Shane Sidebottom.
A whistleblower lawsuit accuses that supervisor of sleeping on the job more than once, according to officials. 

"Some of the incidents that have been described in the lawsuit would be a supervisor sleeping during shift frequently.  One time the same supervisor slept through a live police chase," said Sidebottom.
The two dispatchers, Jeanne Fleek and Kelly Preston, both have more than 15 years of experience as dispatchers.  They filed their lawsuits in Boone County on Monday under a Kentucky law that deals with whistleblower cases, stated reports. 

"Both of these workers have reported ongoing issues with supervisors not handling calls correctly and sleeping on the job.  It's a public safety risk," said Sidebottom. 

When concerns were reported, the lawsuit says that Preston was told to "quit reporting her supervisor for sleeping on the job."  She was then told that she should monitor her dispatcher and "make sure she was awake." 

Preston was eventually moved to another shift, and was given a suspension.

"They knew by moving her that she has a family and that's going to put her in a position that she's either going to have to quit, or she's not going to ever see her family," Sidebottom told FOX19 NOW.

In Fleek's filing, she says she's been the subject of racially-charged comments about her Native American ethnicity by co-workers, alleging she witnessed her director and supervisor in the middle of the dispatch floor making references about looking very much like "Pocahontas."  If she wanted the behavior to stop, she alleges she was told that she needed to "police her co-workers herself."
Eventually, Fleek was also reassigned to another shift, and given a written reprimand, said officials. 
Both women are still employed at the county Public Safety Communications Center.

"She's had to deal with years of constant harassment and been subject to comments regarding minority callers," said Sidebottom. 
According to officials, The Boone County Fiscal Court has been named as the defendant in the lawsuits.
Judge Executive Gary Moore told FOX19 NOW on Tuesday that he, nor county leaders, had been served and hadn't yet seen the lawsuit paperwork.

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