A community is outraged after an Arkansas police department released audio of a 911 operator telling a woman to "shut up" before she drowned in a flash flood.
Debra Stevens, 47, was delivering newspapers for the Southwest Times Record early in the morning on Saturday Aug. 24 when her car was swept away in a flash flood, the Fort Smith Police Department said in astatement. By the time first responders arrived more than an hour later, Stevens had drowned.
On Thursday, the police department released the audio of the 911 call Stevens had placed. The department said it was only doing so with "great reluctance" after numerous requests from the media.
The 22-minute long recording of the 911 call has angered local residents, who are calling the dispatcher's demeanor and response "criminal" and "rude and condescending."
The audio was released online by5News, among other local media outlets, though it was edited to remove sensitive content. It begins after Stevens called for help at 4:38 am, according to the police department.
Aric Mitchell, a spokesperson for the department, told BuzzFeed News the dispatcher who answered is named Donna Reneau. According to a post in February on the department's Facebook page, Reneau had been named "fire dispatcher of the year" in 2019.