Congresswoman takes up fight to classify 9-1-1 operators as first responders

U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, D-Ca., remembers the call that sent her down a path that would eventually lead to Washington. Torres, who worked as a 911 operator for 17 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, says it’s a call she will never forget.

While she was working the graveyard shift one night, a call came in that required a Spanish speaker. With so few bilingual operators available, the call was placed on hold for nearly 20 minutes before Torres was able to answer.

“All I could hear was thumping and just terrible screams in my ears,” Torres recalled. “It was a young girl, saying, ‘Uncle, please don’t kill me, it’s not my fault.’ The thumping was her head being bashed into the wall, followed by five shots. She was shot point-blank by her mother’s boyfriend.”

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