WASHINGTON - The District’s Office of Unified Communications, or OUC, is under the microscope by the Council’s Public Safety Committee.
A hearing was held on Wednesday to discuss the issues and how to improve the agency. This comes after issues have been reported with wrong addresses and a slower-than-expected implementation of recommended changes from the D.C. Auditor.
During the three-hour hearing, witnesses impacted by issues with 9-1-1 calls shared their experiences, with the first half of the meeting focusing on accountability.
"I’m at a loss for words that demonstrate negligible progress – deeply alarmed by errors that delayed access in recent months," said Councilwoman Janeese Lewis-George. "This is not cherrypicking data, its’ a documented, troubling pattern that jeopardizes the safety of our residents in our hour of need."
One witness described feeling frustration after losing her father this past summer, and says the continued issues are adding to her frustation.
"Every time I see another issue, it’s ripping the bandaid. Now, every time stinks, It is outrage to see there are still issues,' the witness described.
Another witness testified that their granddaughter called 9-1-1 in 2020 and gave the correct address for first responders, but they went to a different address. The witness described the granddaughter performed CPR on her mother, but her mother later died.
"No one, no one ever contacted me and my grief has not stopped. Not one police officer, no one from child protective services, the hospital, or any city council or administrative person within this administration followed up to check in, particularly on a 13-year-old who’s been devastated," the witness said at during Wednesday's hearing.
A few other panelists defended the agency and acting director Karima Holmes, saying that Holmes has improved morale.
One union representative said they believed middle management changes were needed, and blamed the media’s depiction of these incidents as putting the agency in a negative light when call-takers are just doing their job.
"We are not a story to tell in order to get high ratings, we’re humans who have chosen to do this work," said the representative.
When asked about the issue in the past Mayor Bowser, indicated she didn’t think the issues were as widespread as being portrayed.
FOX 5 reached out to the Mayor’s Office about the hearing Wednesday, but the request for comment has not been returned.