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Mayor Bowser: DC's 911 director will step down in the new year

Karima Holmes' resignation comes after several incidents of the District's 911 call center sending several dispatches to the wrong addresses.

WASHINGTON — The director of the District's 911 call center is officially stepping down.

Office of Unified Communications (OCU) Director Karima Holmes will leave her position sometime in 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser said during a news conference Tuesday morning.

Holmes, who was appointed to the position back in January 2016, is the third member of Bowser‘s public safety team to leave their position within the past several months and the fourth public safety position Bowser will have to fill. 

D.C. Fire & EMS chief Gregory Dean and D.C. Police Chief Pete Newsham have also resigned earlier this year.

"I want to congratulate and thank for her service and is moving on, but moving on having made a department so much better than what she found," Bowser said referencing Holmes and her tenure with OCU.

The OUC is responsible for the public safety communications infrastructure that ensures police, fire and emergency medical dispatch for the District’s residents and its annual visitors.  

Holmes' resignation comes after several incidents of the District's 911 call center sending several dispatches to the wrong addresses.

Back in November, D.C.'s 911 call center released chilling and disturbing audio Thursday of a teenager's desperate plea for help.

Maria Shepperd, 13, was struggling to resuscitate her dying mom. She thought help was on its way, but a call center worker sent help to the wrong address. The young teen did everything right, even performing CPR for nearly 14 minutes after her mother, Sheila Shepperd, stopped breathing. 

RELATED: 'I think she stopped breathing' | DC teen tries to save her mom as 911 sends medics to wrong address

It took firefighters nearly 21 minutes after Maria's first call to finally arrive. By then it was too late.

Numbers from the D.C. Office of Unified Communications (OUC) previously obtained by WUSA9 showed a spike in calls for noise complaints and mass gatherings once the coronavirus pandemic came to the DMV.

Following the spread of the virus, OUC dispatchers also saw 2,150 service requests come in regarding concerns with mass gatherings and 195 reported complaints of non-essential businesses being open or not in compliance with social gathering parameters.

RELATED: New DC data shows spike in noise complaints, drop in 911 calls

Dispatchers saw a particular spike during the week of March 15th, when 311 calls soared 24% over their average volume.

"People were asking questions like where are the tests, are schools closed, are they going to give out meals," Holmes said in an interview with WUSA9 in September. "Normally, after you finish one call you have a minute or so before another call pops in. When we become busier, like when we did at the onset, it’s just calls popping up back-to-back.”

With people continuing to work from home and not going outside as often, Holmes told WUSA9 that much of the drop in 911 calls could be attributed to the safety measures against the virus.

RELATED: 'You've got the wrong house!' neighbor tells firefighters, as teen tries to save her mom across town

RELATED: Shaquana Bates' son was stillborn. She blames ambulance delay

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