A Times Editorial

Operator's cool saves day

Ve'Etta Bess, a 911 operator in Tampa, easily could have hung up and moved on to the next call when she heard nothing but background noise on the line. After all, people misdial 911 all the time.

But in a stress-filled job where decisions can mean life or death, Bess trusted her instincts, kept listening and prevented a rape and perhaps a murder. A woman being attacked had called 911 and dropped her phone, keeping the line open as the drama unfolded. Bess kept her head. She listened but didn't say anything for fear of giving away the ongoing 911 call. She heard a chilling dialogue as the woman pleaded not to be harmed.

Bess then coolly used software to determine the cell phone's location. Police say the technology pinpointed the house of Tommy Lee Sailor, a registered sexual predator. "I'm a serial rapist," the man told his victim. "I'm a serial killer."

Because of Bess, police arrived in time to save the woman and arrest the assailant, who is being held without bail. Because of Bess, a woman is safe today.

Operator's cool saves day 01/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 6:41pm]

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