Edmonton police launch campaign to cut down silly 911 calls

One woman called because her fireplace was making weird noises. She wanted police to check it out. Another 911 caller had some stuff to move, and thought police could help her out.

One woman called emergency because she had no car, and wanted police to help her move

#377 not 911: EPS educate public on non-emergency line

6 years ago
Edmonton police are trying to educate the public on when to use the emergency line 911, and the non-emergency line, #377. Police say if you're confused use the non-emergency line. 1:03

One woman called because her fireplace was making weird noises. She wanted police to check it out.

Another 911 caller had some stuff to move, and thought police could help her.

It's those ridiculous calls that Edmonton police are tired of fielding.

Now, in an effort to get people to stop calling 911 for non-emergencies, the department is conducting a share-and-shame exercise, releasing audio from some of the sillier calls they've received.

In one real 911 clip, posted by the Edmonton Police Service on Monday afternoon, a man called to report he and another driver were squabbling over a single parking stall at West Edmonton Mall.

"One of you needs to back up," an obviously irritated operator responded. "Give up the parking spot, one of you."

"Yeah, but my car is more (in) than her car is" a caller said.

It was like something out of a Seinfeld episode.

And it's that type of call 911 operators hope to avoid in the future.

"We are once again trying to raise awareness about proper use of 911, as we continue to see errant calls flood our emergency line," Insp. Graham Hogg said in a statement on Monday. "The majority of these calls come from citizens who don't know the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency."

Of the 90,034 calls the Edmonton police 911 centre has received so far this year, 36,617 — or more than 40 per cent — were not emergencies, police say.

Spreading the word

Over the next three months, EPS will post ads about correct 911 usage on buses, LRT cars and at transit stations.

But they will direct most of their energy to EPS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, where they're asking people to share their posts with the hashtag #EPS377. Their goal: to teach Edmontonians the difference between an emergency and non-emergency.

When to call 911:

  • If you or somebody else are in a life-threatening situation
  • You witness or are the victim of a crime in progress

When to call #377:

  • You see something suspicious
  • Your car is broken into
  • A non-violent crime was committed

Some of the tweets shared so far poke fun at this idea:

However, EPS remains optimistic.

"We hope our social media followers will share and re-tweet our messages so we can reach as many citizens as possible," Hogg said. "By making the right call, you may literally be helping save a life."

EPS first launched its 'Make the Right Call" campaign in 2012.


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