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A word to the wise: Recorders pick up everything at 9-1-1 dispatch centers, not just the actual calls.

Forsyth county emergency dispatcher John Ruckh – who has been with the county for 24 years – has been suspended with pay over comments he made in the background about Oprah Winfrey while another dispatcher handled a call from Dr. Maya Angelou’s caretaker.

“These comments are unacceptable and we have opened an internal investigation to look into the circumstances surrounding this event,” says Forsyth County EMS Director Dan Ozimek in a statement.

During the recording, Ruckh is heard discussing a controversial interview Oprah did last fall with BBC where she said the generations of older people who were born, bred, and marinated in prejudice and racism just have to die.

Ruckh’s garbled conversation appears to be saying that “Oprah has fallen out of grace,” and that she is upset because people are not supportive of President Obama.

“In Emergency Services, we deal with a lot of pain and suffering and we make decisions in split seconds to know how to do, what to do and who to send, says Ruckh, who describes Angelou as a ‘wonderful human being’ for whom he had the ‘utmost respect.’ “… However, sometimes we become calloused and insensitive. I really hate that this happened at the time that it did, because this is taking away from Maya Angelou’s passing.”

“This is in no way a racial slur, slander, associated conversation,” Ruckh also says.

“It is our hope that these comments will not overshadow the celebration of Maya Angelou’s positive impact that she has had to this community and around the world,” says Ozimek. “We offer our deepest sympathy to Maya Angelou’s family and friends.”


Read more here.

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