Skip to main content

JFormer manager of an emergency call center in Washington, D.C., will return to her leadership position just over a year after stepping down amid scrutiny of ineffective handling of 911 calls.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that she will reappoint Karima Holmes as director of the Office of Unified Communications, which includes all
Calls related to 911 and 311
despite stepping down in 2021 following accusations that she messed up emergency situations, wasting precious seconds due to difficulties locating callers.

“During her tenure at OUC, Director Holmes created infrastructural redundancy for OUC emergency operations and launched the Office of Professional Standards and Development,” the mayor’s office said.
in a report.
“A seasoned public safety professional and recognized leader in the emergency communications industry, for the past two decades, Director Holmes has served as executive director of Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) across the United States , where she overhauled their technical infrastructure and critical public safety programs. ”

DC CORRECTS ‘DEFICIENT’ DATA, TEMPORARILY RELEASING MONTHS-LAVE DISPUTE WITH ELECTORAL CLUSTER

As director of the OUC, Holmes faced
harsh criticism
that the agency’s 911 calling system was below national standards and had often
difficulty in locating places
to send rescuers. These complaints led to an audit by the city, which found several areas that needed improvement.

“The comprehensive results include inadequate supervision of call-pickup and dispatch operations, inconsistent or ineffective use of call-scripting protocols, inconsistent use of location-determination technology tools to determine locations, and an insufficient follow-up by management on after-action reviews,” Washington, D.C. auditor Kathleen Patterson wrote in the October 2021 report prepared for the mayor and city council.

Dispatchers often sent responders to incorrect locations, causing confusion and delays, the
114-page audit
alleged. In August 2020, emergency responders requested assistance from the OUC as it searched for three men who were missing after falling overboard in the Potomac River. Although first responders requested additional assistance from Capital Cove Marina at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, the agency sent ground units more than five miles down another river.

The report also found that dispatch times for high-priority calls were inconsistent across the district, with some areas reporting response times 20% slower than others.

Despite these challenges, the audit noted that “problems identified by FE with call-taking and dispatch operations can be corrected to improve service to residents and responders.” It is unclear whether these issues were resolved prior to Holmes’ return to the agency or whether the mayor’s office considered these findings when reappointed.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Washington reported 1,247,624 emergency calls and 2,822 text messages to 911 in 2020, according to the latest available data from
911.gov.
The district has also seen a sharp rise in crime over the past year, including a 14% increase in homicides in 2021 over the previous year and an 8% increase in motor vehicle thefts, according to
year-end data
of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Bowser’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Washington Examiner.