June 20, 2016 - 1:00 PM
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - An upset Newfoundlander called 911 to report her pizza didn't have enough cheese, police say.
Const. Geoff Higdon said the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary took the call Friday from someone in the St. John's area.
"The individual had an issue with the company she bought the pizza from, and there wasn't enough cheese, and had approached the company and didn't like whatever response they had given," Higdon said Monday.
"I'm not sure if by calling us they assumed there was some sort of action we could take, or what the situation was, but of course we advised the individual they just needed to speak with the manager of the company and not the police."
Higdon said an RNC communications technician described it as "THE call — that one call that will always stick with you as completely bizarre," but the force has received many inappropriate inquiries over the years.
Emergency agencies the world over have struggled with them since adopting 911. Last month, a Las Vegas-area fire department held a news conference to ask people to not call over "stubbed toes and sore throats." In February, police in Kentucky reportedly said people often called them to ask directions.
In December, British Columbia's largest 911 call centre, E-Comm911, issued a list of the top 10 reasons not to call the emergency line, based on actual calls received in 2015.
Among them: Requesting the number for a local tire dealership; reporting an issue with a vending machine; asking for the non-emergency line; complaining a car was parked too close to theirs; reporting that a child wouldn't put his seatbelt on; telling police about a coffee shop that refused to give a refill; asking if it's OK to park on the street; reporting someone had used a roommate's toothbrush; seeking help getting a basketball out of a tree; and complaining that their building's noisy air system was keeping them awake.
Higdon said Monday inappropriate phone calls often come on the RNC's non-emergency lines too.
"People call our communications centre to complain about stuff they hear about on the radio that has nothing to do with police or justice or law or anything. They call us to give an opinion. That one's common. There are radio open line shows and sometimes people call us instead of there," he said.
Higdon said the department has repeatedly made it clear: 911 is for emergencies only. And yet the calls keep coming.
"I think when people have a problem and they're just completely stumped at who to call, they'll call us," he said.
"And oftentimes we're able to provide assistance, or maybe direct them to the right person, or in some cases, it's just a completely inappropriate thing to ask police, like in this instance."
— By Adina Bresge in Halifax
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016