NOWATA COUNTY, Oklahoma - A 911 dispatcher in Nowata County is accused of sleeping on the job.

The allegation comes after several 911 calls went unanswered this month and pictures were taken that appear to show a dispatcher asleep at the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office.

Several people have said issues with the 911 dispatch in Nowata County have not been resolved and are only getting worse.

Athena Phifer says she’s a former dispatcher for the county who worked under Sheriff Kenny Freeman.  She says the problem is not new.

“A sheriff’s office shouldn’t be run on a time will tell basis,” she said.  “It shouldn’t be just wait and see and we’ll correct the problem.  Steps need to be taken to address the problems as they come up before they spiral out of control.”

A spiral that Phifer claims has begun.

“I feel like the people of Nowata County need somebody to step up, they need somebody to say ‘this is what’s going on, this is what needs to change, this is what’s happening in your community.’  They have a right to know,” said Phifer.  “You should never have to worry about somebody answering a 911 call.  That’s not how any of this should work,” she said.

Phifer says this isn’t the first time the same dispatcher has been caught asleep.

She says, “it was never addressed, it was never handled.”

Phifer says she’s worried about the safety of her community and says she won’t be calling 911 for help until something is done.

“I would call star 55,” she said.  “I would call Oklahoma Highway Patrol because I know that their dispatch isn’t asleep.”

Sheriff Freeman says he is not yet ready to address the issue on camera, but he did say the pictures are not what they seem.  He says it’s a political tactic against him and he is addressing the issue.