Peel Regional Police are pleading with the public to stop frivolously tying up emergency phone lines after a woman called 911 to ask for a police escort to make it to her train on time at Toronto’s Union Station.
The call came in on Oct. 20, police say.
In an audio recording of the call, which police posted on Twitter Thursday as part of an ongoing education campaign, the woman tells the operator that a ride was supposed to show up to take her to Union that morning, but didn’t.
“And I don’t know how you guys work with services in terms of that, ’cause I’m in a taxi right now but it’s not gonna get me to the station on time for my train to board at 9:45,” the woman says.
The operator sounds befuddled and asks for clarification, then says, “So what would you like an officer to do?”
“Do you guys offer emergency ride services or not?” the caller responds.
“I can assure you we don’t do that,” the operator says, before advising the woman to grab a cab to get to her appointment.
Calls like this are problematic, says Const. Akhil Mooken.
“It really ties up our phone lines, and unfortunately, while we strive to have people not hear our hold message, when we receive these types of calls, sometimes that’s what happens,” he said.
It’s an increasing problem. Peel police’s communications department received almost 10,000 misused calls — which are either non-emergency or accidental — in October alone, Mooken said.
There have been almost 90,000 misused calls to 911 in Peel so far this year, he added. It’s a concern to the organization.
“There is an increase in misused calls,” he said.
Still, this particular call didn’t shock him. It’s up there with another call in recent months where someone dialled 911 to complain that there was a tomato on his sandwich, he said.
Just this morning, someone called 911 to complain about their debit card being stuck in an ATM, Mooken said.
“There’s nothing police can do about that,” he said.
No charges were laid in this incident, Mooken said, but mischief charges are possible if someone misuses 911 intentionally, he added.