Society

Woman's Call For Help To Sheriff Ends In Humiliation

| by Michael Allen

Felicia Nevins' call for help to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office in Port Richey, Florida, on May 17 ended in public humiliation.

"I didn't want any of this," Nevins told the Tampa Bay Times.

Nevins and her husband have quietly been trying to have a baby via artificial insemination, which they had not disclosed to their own family.

Nevins recalled calling the sheriff's office non-emergency line because she and her husband had been storing his sperm in a thermos with dry ice, but forgot to remove the rubber O-ring.

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Firefighters and a deputy came to her home, and safely opened the thermos, avoiding an explosion. The first responders kept mum about the purpose of the call and didn't spill the beans to neighbors.

Nevins recalled: "The officer told them it was a private matter, and he treated it as a private matter."

However, the sheriff's office reportedly wrote about the incident on Facebook on May 18, and included a stock photo of an angry woman:

Pasco deputies responded to an Assist Other Agency call for service yesterday, May 17, at about 6 p.m. A 26-year-old Port Richey woman contacted emergency personnel, including Pasco Fire Rescue, about a possible dangerous situation.

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The woman "advised she is trying to get pregnant by artificial insemination ... and was trying to store the sperm as per the directions. She stated she placed two small vials of sperm inside a 2-quart stainless steel thermos, added dry ice, and closed the lid without removing the rubber O-ring as the directions required."

The deputy advised Fire-Rescue personnel "... of the potential for an explosion due to increasing pressure inside the device."

Fire-Rescue personnel carried the container outside to a safe location and used a pair of channel lock pliers to remove the thermos lid, releasing the pressure and removing the danger. The container was given back to the woman without incident.

While the sheriff's office didn't disclose names, Nevins told the Tampa Bay Times there was enough information for journalists and others to do a public records search and discover that it was her and her husband.

A TV news crew came to their house on May 18; she spoke to the Tampa Bay Times on May 19 because her name was "already out there."

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said the posting was part of his office's social media strategy:

We attempt to show every day what our officers see in calls and we are a very open agency about the types of calls we see each day. This was a very unique call faced by our officers as well as Pasco fire fighters ... make no mistake, this was a potentially dangerous situation ... we are grateful that no damage was done.

The sheriff's office later released a statement defending the Facebook posting:

As unusual as this situation was, it was important to provide this type of safety information contained in the post. We always encourage everyone to contact us if they find themselves in a position where they need help.

In these types of situations, we never publicly release names or identifying information. Unfortunately, this information was obtained through a public records request of our reports and was published by the media.

The sheriff's office refused to remove the posting, which Nevins said led to online harassment as she was mocked, demeaned and accused of trying to get money from the county.

"All I'm trying to do is become a mother and I'm being berated for it," Nevins told the newspaper.

Nevins said the sheriff's office could have written about the dangers of dry ice without including her story.

"I'm not going to support a Sheriff's Office that thinks it's okay to belittle their community," she added.

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Pasco Sheriff's Office/Facebook / Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr

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