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Accidental 9-1-1 calls on the rise

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The Town of Fort Frances has had nearly twice as many accidental 9-1-1 calls this year, compared to 2018.

From January to the end of September, there were 355 9-1-1 hangups, pocket dials, or dropped cell calls, which is up from 189 over the same period last year.

“This is a significant increase year over year in calls for service and the OPP are obligated to respond to each and every one of these calls,” said Police Services Board member Coun. John McTaggart during Monday evening's council meeting.

He stressed that these calls cost taxpayer money and take police resources away from real emergencies.

If 9-1-1 is accidentally dialed, stay on the line and tell the emergency communications officer what happened.

If the call is hung up after an accidental dial, the police will have to call you back which further delays the incident and could tie up the line for someone who actually needs it.

“Police services are a significant portion of the annual municipal budget. We pay for a contract with the OPP for base service and coverage,” Coun. McTaggart noted.

In addition to the base contract price paid by the municipality, it pays for calls for service on a pre-determined time standard.

Depending on the category of the call, the service for the time standard varies from 1.3 to 37 hours per call, Coun. McTaggart said.

“These calls for service are very important but they are not free of charge and by no means do I want to discourage anybody from calling the police when you feel you need assistance,” he stressed.

“I just want to urge you to make sure everyone in your household is aware that improper 9-1-1 calls divert police resources from other calls or services.”

Coun. McTaggart asked the public to please avoid putting 9-1-1 as a preset on their cellphone that can be easily triggered or let small children use the homophone or a cellphone that may inadvertently dial 9-1-1.

“This is one area of calls for service to the OPP that can have a positive impact without our safety being compromised,” he remarked.

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