Frivolous calls to 9-1-1 are flooding local dispatch centers. Now police say they have had enough.
Dispatchers have heard it all from wrong fast food orders to the cable going out and claim the problem is only getting worse.
“We have lost our cable totally,” said one woman who called Fairfield 9-1-1. That cable issue quickly became a problem for dispatchers in Fairfield back in August.
“Hi I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on with my TV,” another caller said. The dispatcher informed her she was calling the wrong line. “Ma'am 911 is for life threatening emergencies,” that dispatcher said.
They were flooded with calls from people who couldn’t watch a key episode of Breaking Bad when the cable suddenly went out. Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara told NBC Connecticut the bogus calls are beyond frustrating. “It’s really an abuse of the system,” Chief MacNamara explained.
He said in the last few months he’s seen a spike in people across Fairfield, and the state dialing 9-1-1 for inconveniences, and they are taking up dispatchers’ time when seconds count in real emergencies. “There could be tragic consequences when people use the emergency system when people don’t have an emergency,” Chief MacNamara added.
Another danger dispatchers are battling in Connecticut is called “swatting.” For example, just this month someone called in a fake shooting at a Manchester home. It was a prank to get a massive police response. The homeowner who did nothing wrong, was handcuffed and questioned, but he didn’t even know why.
“The 9-1-1 system is really competing against all these other issues,” Chief MacNamara said.
These are issues MacNamara is trying to stop, and he has a message for whoever’s taking up the phone lines.
“Keep 9-1-1 for a true emergency,” he said.