911 callers misuse emergency line to complain about Amber Alerts and other non-urgent matters in Ontario


Published April 16, 2024 at 10:29 am

911 misuse ontario

People continue to misuse 911 for non-emergencies such as calling to complain about an Amber Alert.

The OPP released audio of three different 911 calls in which the callers were tying up the line for real emergencies. Listen to the audio below.

In the first example, an irate man appears to be upset over an Amber Alert.

When the 911 operator asks, “Where is your emergency?” The caller then responds in an angry tone.

“You’re the one who gave me the emergency, an Amber Alert on my iPhone,” he shouts.

In the next call, a person asks about volunteer opportunities with the OPP.

The last call is a man who appears to be upset about traffic signs or something else — part of the call is not revealed.

“And you have got to straighten something out because I am fed up with the (voice beeped out) on the signs, okay?” the caller says.

The OPP asks people to keep the line clear for people who need help immediately. Life-threatening situations, an uncontrolled fire, a carbon monoxide or smoke alarm going off, or a crime in progress are reasons to call 911. People shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 in those situations.

“The appropriate use of 911 is critical to ensure lines remain open for those in need of dire assistance,” OPP says in a post on X. “Communications operators across the province are here to answer your call, and dispatch appropriate emergency services.”

In a non-emergency, people should call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122. Local police stations also post their non-emergency numbers on their websites. Peel Regional Police can be reached at 905-453-3311, Hamilton Police at 905-546-4925, Halton Police at 905-825-4777, and Durham Police at 1-888-579-1520.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is from April 14 to 20 and many police services are using this time to thank 911 telecommunications staff.

Peel Regional Police say, “telecommunicators are the lifeline between Peel residents and emergency responders.”

But sadly, there are many examples of misuse of 911 in Peel Region. In 2023, Peel Regional Police received over 800,000 calls to 911, but 300,000 were deemed to be misused.

Last summer, police warned that 911 callers were waiting on the line as dispatchers dealt with a constant stream of calls.

Police have also released other examples of 911 misuse including a dispute over an ice cap from a Tim Hortons, and a sandwich order.

Lead photo: OPP screen grab

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