The New Orleans Police Department has issued a warrant for a 911 operator who allegedly “deliberately” hung up on callers needing assistance during Hurricane Ida.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the department announced it has “obtained an arrest warrant for Precious Stephens on charges of malfeasance in office and interfering with an emergency communication.”
NOLA authorities accuse Stephens of “disconnecting 911 calls deliberately without obtaining necessary emergency information or relaying such emergencies to the other dispatchers for aid” while working with the Orleans Parish Communications District.
She remains at large.
Stephens was fired from her job. Her superiors also reported her to the police. Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service and carries up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
Police are urging the public to come forward with knowledge on the whereabouts of Stephens.
More than 456,000 people are still without power in the city. According to WDSU, Ida damaged or destroyed more than 22,000 power poles — more than hurricanes Katrina, Zeta and Delta combined.
President Joe Biden arrived Friday to survey the damage. Homes and businesses were rocked by wind and water damage that tore off roofs and flooded homes.
“We’re moving as fast as we can to be able to provide access regardless who your provider was,” Biden said, adding that $100 million has been provided in assistance so far.
“There’s nothing political about this,” Biden continued. “It’s just simply about saving lives and getting people back up and running and we’re in this together and so we’re not going to leave any community behind.”
“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the investigation into this matter and is dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts,” a statement obtained by NOLA.com reads.