by: Angela Hong Updated:TULSA, Okla. —
Bogus 911 calls for situations that aren’t emergencies are bogging down staff at Tulsa’s 911 call center.
FOX23’s Angela Hong got copies of some of those 911 recordings. They include everything from accidental dials to questions about sports scores and even requests for the Fire Department to water their yards.
The city said this has to stop.
“And when I came back a great big rat almost the size of a squirrel had jumped up at the head of my bed,” said one caller.
While this person might have thought the situation was an emergency worthy of a 911 call, Tulsa’s 911 Center Director Terry O’Malley said it was not.
“It’s basically wasting time on our system and preventing someone’s real emergencies from getting taken care of,” said O’Malley.
The city is revamping an effort to remind citizens to use the non-emergency line. The center handles more than 1 million calls a year and many of them aren’t true emergencies.
“It’s definitely a life or death issue. It’s a crime. Misuse of 911 is a crime,” said O’Malley.
On Thursday, FOX23 asked the 911 dispatchers to count how many non-emergency calls they handled in a 15-minute period.
In that time there were 33 calls that were not emergencies. The biggest culprits were cellphones, 19 of those 33 calls were people accidentally dialing 911.
As demonstrated in this call:
“This is the Tulsa Police Department."
"We got a 911 hang up call is everything OK?"
"Yes. Ah, yes. Crap. I got a new phone I guess it does like my old phone when I shove it in my pocket. I’m sorry.”
If someone’s life is in danger you should call 911. FOX23 also learned not all crimes warrant a 911 call.
“If it’s a crime in progress or if it’s a crime that’s just occurred that’s a 911 call,” said O’Malley.
Because northeast Oklahoma uses a 918 area code, misdials are more common than most other parts of the country.
The 911 center recommends you programing in the non-emergency numbers into your phone, here they are:
- Police – (918) 596-9222
- Fire – (918) 596-9977
- Customer Care Center – (918) 596-2100
- Dead Animal Pickup – (918) 596-9771
- Water and Sewer Services – (918) 596-9488