August 27, 2013 - 8:35 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Stop giving kids old cell phones to play with.
That's the message from the RCMP as the number of abandoned 911 calls decline and police continue their effort to reduce this diversion of police resources.
That's because it's deactivated cell phones — often given to children to play with — that are most likely to be used when it comes to abandoned calls to 911. Cell phones that no longer have a cellular plan and are no longer registered to anyone can still make a 911 call when the battery is charged. The calls show a 911 prefix rather than the local exchange making it almost impossible for police to find the location. Instead of giving the phones to children, the RCMP recommends recycling them.
Police have a duty to investigate all calls to 911 even those abandoned by the caller. Between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2012, the Central Okanagan received 2974 abandoned calls and each required hours of follow-up to determine if emergency services were required. During the same period in 2013, police received 2537 abandoned 911 calls, a 15 per cent decrease from the previous year. Of all abandoned calls, only one per cent resulted in necessary police action.
Cell phone users in general are the main contributer to abandoned 911 calls, often "pocket dialing" police, but the numbers are decreasing. To avoid pocket dialing, lock your phone, keep your phone in a case or holster and if you place a pocket dial call, answer the follow-up call. The few minutes taken talking to the dispatcher will prevent police resources from being diverted unnecessarily.
Those who still want to give old cells phones to children as toys can at the very least recycle the battery so it can no longer be powered on to make false emergency calls.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013