Ottawa

Pocket dials, non-emergencies clogging 911, OPP say

Ontario Provincial Police say too many people are "pocket dialling" 911, while others are calling the emergency number over matters that aren't exactly urgent.

Upper Ottawa Valley OPP logged 321 false calls in 3 months

Lock your keypad and take 911 off your speed dial list to avoid pocket dialling, OPP advise. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police say too many people are "pocket dialling" 911, while others are calling the emergency number over matters that aren't exactly urgent.

In the first three months of 2019, the Upper Ottawa Valley detachment of the OPP received 321 911 calls that were either dialled by accident, or were not emergencies.

When they receive a suspected pocket dial, police policy is to call back to determine whether there's an actual emergency. Even if the caller tells police they dialled 911 by accident, officers are dispatched just to make sure.

"They could be under duress," OPP Const. Shawn Peever pointed out.

Non-emergency number

Often, callers dial 911 on purpose, but to report non-urgent matters: when they discover a theft after the fact, for example.

Instead, they should call OPP at 1-888-310-1122 for non-emergencies, Peever said.

"They won't take the time to look [the non-emergency number] up. Instead, they'll take the path of least resistance."

Police say cellphone users can prevent pocket dials by locking their keypad, turning off the 911 autodial feature and removing 911 from their speed dial list.

Police say the false calls put a strain on resources and may prevent or slow their response to actual emergencies.

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