911 operator suspected of hanging up on non-english callers

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — Officials say a Massachusetts 911 dispatcher is under investigation for hanging up on several callers who did not speak English.

WBZ-TV reports the Lawrence dispatcher, whose name has not been released, has been placed on paid leave and could lose her job.

Police Chief James Fitzpatrick says dispatchers are supposed to get a translator on the line if they’re having difficulty understanding a caller. He says residents should not hesitate to call 911 even if there is a language barrier.

Fitzpatrick says one caller who may have been in need of help and was hung up on never called back.

Mayor Dan Rivera says the dispatcher’s actions could have put residents in harm’s way.

According to U.S. Census estimates, more than one-third of Lawrence’s residents speak English “less than very well.”

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