• Orange County employee violated cellphone driving policy 6 times, records show

    By: Daralene Jones , James Tutten

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An in-car camera caught an Orange County Fire Rescue inspector nearly causing a crash as she talked on her phone while she was driving a county vehicle.

    Investigators said Chonda Hawkins nearly rear-ended one car and caused two other cars to veer off the road and crash.

    9 Investigates also discovered this was her sixth time violating the rules about cellphone use while driving.


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    The county installed cameras hoping to reduce incidents like that.

    WFTV investigative reporter Daralene Jones asked why this inspector gets to keep her job after so many violations.

    Part of the reason for installing these cameras was to let county workers know someone was watching in the event something like this happened.

    The cameras are about the size of a cellphone and are in 1,600 county vehicles to protect the county and taxpayers from paying out claims from crashes.

    The video shows Hawkins quickly approaching a white vehicle in front of her while chatting on her cellphone in a county vehicle. 

    Records show it was her sixth violation, and she's not alone in violating the county's hands-free cellphone policy. 

    The county started installing the cameras in 2007 because of an increase in crashes.

    Officials estimate the cameras have saved $1.3 million over the last three years because in some cases, they protected the county. 

    Hawkins was suspended without pay for 40 hours due to the incident.

    A spokesperson said supervisors consider the offense, length of service and lapse of time since last discipline. 

    Hawkins previously received oral and written reprimands, with the most recent incident being two years ago.

    She just finished serving that suspension and is now back at work. 

    Her supervisor said in a discipline letter "I want to be emphatically clear in my communication to you that you are hearby on notice that another violation will likely result in termination."

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