Pocket 911 Problems for Police

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Last updated April 12, 2019

Police in Toronto in Canada are asking users of new and old cell phones to take extra care when they put away their devices.  Residents of the city accidentally “pocket dialed” emergency services no less than 107,000 times during 2011, according to police, with a further 116,000 people accidentally calling 911 while in the process of calling a different number.  Yesterday police launched a campaign to get people to “Lock it before you pocket it” in order to avoid the accidental placing of calls.

Of all emergency calls made in Toronto in 2011, 18 percent were placed by accident, according to Constable Wendy Drummond, and while police have only recently begun to track pocket dials, it is clear that the problem is on the increase.  “It’s definitely a growing problem,” Drummond notes.  “As technology and the phone products are changing out there, we are continuing to get an increased number of pocket calls.”

When someone misdials 911, an operator has no alternative but to phone back in order to check that the person who made the call is all right, and such calls are both costly and dangerous to people who may be facing a very real emergency.  “When you’ve got a legitimate emergency, every second counts,” Drummond says.  “When we receive a pocket dial or a misdial, the amount of time we have to spend getting someone back on line… that takes time away the operator could be using to deal with a legitimate emergency.”