When an Amber Alert was issued on Tuesday morning, many residents clogged up the phone lines as they called into 911 to complain about the alert waking them up in the early hours of the morning. Multiple police stations were forced to release statements reminding residents not to use 911 unless it's a real emergency. Now, Canadians are demanding that those who call 911 to complain about Amber Alerts should be fined.
On Tuesday, the Amber Alert was broadcasted in an attempts to locate William Gooden, a three-year-old boy who was abducted by his mother. Toronto Police later reported that the child and his mother had been located and the Amber Alert was canceled later on in the day.
However, despite the Amber Alert aiding in the discovery of this 3-year-old boy, some Canadians still found it unnecessary. Both the Toronto Police and Peel Regional Police stated that multiple complaint calls filled up their response lines, which could potentially delay their response time to real emergencies.
This isn't the first time that Canadians have misused 911 to complain about an Amber Alert. Back in February, an Amber Alert was issued for Riya Rajkumar, an 11-year-old girl who was abducted by her father. When the Amber Alert was issued late in the evening, multiple residents took to 911 to complain about the disturbance.
Sadly, Riya was later found dead in her father's apartment. However, her father was located and arrested after someone had located his vehicle with the help of the alert.
It's important to remember that Amber Alerts are issued for a reason. When a child is in danger, these alerts are pushed out in hopes that the public is able to help locate the child as soon as possible. These Amber Alerts work.
With this in mind and the increase in complaints being dialed to 911 every time an Amber Alert gets issued, many Canadians are furious with the response to the emergency system. Canadians have taken to Twitter to express that those who misuse 911 during Amber Alerts should get fined.
According to the OPP website, "it is against the law to call 9-1-1 as a joke." Other police forces in Ontario have similar information on their websites as well. For example, Chatham-Kent police say "Misuse of 911 In addition to risking the safety of people who may need emergency assistance, the deliberate misuse of 911 is a criminal offence that is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment."
Information regarding how serious these associated fines and charges for the misuse of 9-1-1 are is not currently listed on either site.