Orlando police fire 911 dispatcher who took calls in January murder-suicide
Alan F. Ballard, 60, says in his rebuttal that he couldn't have done anything to alter the outcome.
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Willoughby MarianoFrom Staff Reports
8:16 p.m. EDT, August 27, 2009
Orlando police fired a 911 dispatcher Thursday who handled calls seeking help for a kidnapped woman who was found slain hours later, a department spokeswoman said.
Police ruled Alan F. Ballard, 60, made several mistakes in the case of Loyta Sloley, 24, who was found Jan. 27 on the floor of a downtown Orlando hotel room, shot at least four times. Her ex-boyfriend James Clayton, 46, was collapsed on top of her, dead of a single gunshot to the head.
The morning of Sloley's death, Ballard told her she was making police "do a lot of work that we don't need to be doing," according to a recording of the call. He also failed to warn his supervisor that the case was urgent, an internal investigation found.
"Our employees have to be held accountable for their actions," police spokeswoman Sgt. Barbara Jones said
Ballard did not comment, saying he is in the process of appealing the decision. In a written rebuttal to police he said the accusations against him are unfair.
"I, to this very moment, can think of nothing I would have done differently, given the facts I had at the time the situation was unfolding," Ballard wrote.
Ballard had not previously been disciplined.
An internal report casts the four hours that passed between the first call for help and the discovery of Sloley's body as a series of missed opportunities and delays. During that time, Ballard handled a flurry of phone calls between Sloley's concerned loved ones and officers, plus unrelated emergency calls.
The first call for help came at 8:15 a.m. when Sheryl Blake-Robinson, a supervisor at Lucerne Hospital and Sloley's co-worker, told 911 dispatchers the victim may have been kidnapped.
Sloley, a hospital technician, called in sick. Blake-Robinson knew Sloley was having trouble with her ex-boyfriend, and coaxed the victim to tell her that he had kidnapped her.
The report notes a 23-minute delay took place between Blake-Robinson's call and when it was entered into a computer dispatch system.
When Ballard did so, it was noted a suspicious incident, not a possible kidnapping -- a classification decision that could have triggered a different response by police, the report said.
Blake-Robinson told investigators said she was frustrated by police's response to the call. "I wasn't taken seriously," the hospital employee said.
Ballard's supervisor Taunya Harris complained that when Ballard told Sloley he was creating unnecessary work for police, he was blaming the victim.
"It seems that he was chastising the victim in ... in lieu of trying to assist her," Harris told investigators.
Ballard wrote in his rebuttal that he was trying to pressure Sloley to give him her location.
"That's how I would talk to my kids almost," Ballard said.