(WFRV) – Several law enforcement agencies across the state of Wisconsin are seeing a giant spike in abandoned 911 calls, which is putting a strain on first responders.
Police officers in Janesville are reporting a record start to June with already 174 abandoned 911 calls. That’s about 43 calls per day, and in many cases, these incidents are pocket dials.
“Dispatchers have heard lawnmowers running, the sounds of pockets swishing, or children playing outside,” stated the Janesville Police Department.
Each time a call to 911 is made, a dispatcher takes the call and has to evaluate what is happening. They attempt to identify the caller or listen for background noise to determine if it is a real emergency. The dispatcher checks prior calls for service if they cannot get the caller back on the line, something that takes time away from real emergencies.
“This all takes time,” said Lieutenant Mike Blaser with the Janesville Police Department. “The 911 line is for emergency use, and these calls impede normal 911 calls.”
Similarly, in Dodge County, the sheriff’s office received 30 accidental 911 calls in 24 hours.
Deputies report that between January and May, they received 2,571 hangups, averaging around 20 per day. That is around ten hours away from legitimate emergencies.
A lot of 911 hangups are from the SOS feature on iPhones. Those interested in turning off the feature that allows you to call 911 by just holding the side button can do so by visiting their Emergency SOS settings.
By turning it off, you can help prevent accidental 911 calls. Once you turn off the setting, you can always reactivate it at any time.
For more information about accidental 911 calls, take a look at the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office public service announcement.