Non-Emergency calls to 911: a strain on OPP resources

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The Grenville County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received 28 calls to 9-1-1 last month that were deemed non-emergency. 9-1-1 should only be used in a life-threatening situation, to stop a crime in progress or to report a fire. The non-emergency number for the OPP should be used for all other issues like stolen bikes, noise complaints and vehicle break-ins.

The Grenville County OPP also continued to experience a high volume of so-called “pocket-dial” calls to 9-1-1 last month. These are unintentionally dialed from cell phones which have been placed in the owners pocket or hand bag. Pocket-dials place a further strain on police resources, as the OPP Communication Center has to find the location of the caller and then send an officer to that location and verify that there is no emergency. These calls can interfere with police response to a real emergency.

OPP tips to avoid pocket dialing:
* Carry your cell phone in a holster
* Ensure the keypad is locked
* Don’t make 9-1-1 part of your pre-programmed auto-dialing
* Read your user’s manual and contact your cell phone provider to find out what options are available to “pocket dial proof” your phone

If you are aware that you have dialed 911 accidentally:
*DON’T HANG UP! Remain on the line and tell the communicator you dialed in error.
* Your call is likely to be put through to police – answer all questions asked by the communicator.
* An officer may need to contact you to confirm that everything is fine and there is no emergency. They want to know that someone isn’t forcing you to say “everything is fine”, when you really do need help.

If you did not realize that you dialed 911 (i.e. “pocket dial”):
* Your call will be automatically transferred to police when there is no voice contact (because the phone is in your pocket or purse)
* Every police agency handles these calls differently. OPP communicators will try to call you back. If you answer, the same information as above applies.
* If you do not answer after repeated attempts, your location, based on your GPS coordinates, if available, will be provided to an officer.

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