Really, You Called 911 for That?
Hamilton Police are reminding the public that 911 is for emergencies – not to request assistance for rodents in your basement. In 2019, Hamilton Police fielded 195,000 911 calls – nearly one-third of those were not emergency calls.
Here is a look at the top 2019 non-emergency calls fielded by Hamilton’s communications operators.
- A forensics person to assist with identifying spiders in the basement
- Someone asking for cigarettes
- Putting out an Amber Alert for a stolen puppy
- Helping locate keys lost in a drain
- Changing a bad carpet
- Mice in an apartment
- Help in calling a taxi
- TV isn’t working and an important game is on
- Cold raccoon
- Locking keys in the car
Non-emergency calls take up valuable resources and potentially delay responding to those individuals in a genuine emergency. A 911 emergency is when someone needs help right away because of an injury or an immediate danger.
In 2019, Hamilton Police also charged a 70-year-old man after he called 911 to complain about an Amber Alert, The Amber Alert was issued by Niagara Regional Police Service in response to five missing children. The male called indicating he did not have an emergency and was angry about receiving the Amber Alert on his phone.
Amber Alerts are a warning system that quickly alerts the public of a suspected abduction of children who are in imminent danger. Law enforcement agencies must meet strict guidelines before an Amber Alert is issued. Alerts are an instrumental tool in assisting the public and police with locating a child who may be in danger.
Hamilton communications operators are also dealing with a high volume of pocket dials. Approximately 45,000 calls are abandoned before they are answered, which means an operator must call back and verify there is no emergency. The volume is so high, Hamilton Police have had to assign a full-time staff member to respond to all abandoned calls.
If you have called 911 accidentally, it’s important to stay on the line to speak to an operator to explain the error. Every 911 call is taken seriously, so explaining the mistake will eliminate the need for the emergency operator to call back. It is also important to ensure all cell phones are locked to avoid accidentally calling 911.
For non-urgent cases, such as reporting a noise complaint, callers should use the non-emergency line at 905-546-4925 or visit the website at www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca.