An Amber Alert issued earlier this week has added to an all too familiar pattern. When an alert went out for a missing Ontario boy people began calling 911 about the amber alert. This has sparked outrage from Canadians, but the police say there will be no fines for people who made these calls.
While many people have demanded fines for people who tie up 911 lines complaining about alerts, in a statement to Narcity, Stephanie Sabourin, the media relations specialist for the Niagara Regional Police said, "at the present time there is not a fine mechanism in place for calls such as this to 911."
While there are no fines coming from this particular police force, the Niagara Regional Police acknowledge that something needs to be done to deter people from making 911 calls like this in the future.
Sabourin said "seeing as we have received these complaint calls in the past, as have other police services, we take a proactive, educational stance via social media to educate the public on this as well as highlight the professionalism of our dispatchers by taking an educational approach in terms of what constitutes the need to call 911 and what calls should be placed to our non-emergency number."
As part of this educational effort, Niagara Police actually released an audio clip of one of the 911 calls they got about the recent Amber Alert. In the clip, which has garnered tons of attention online, a caller can be heard cursing out the 911 operator.
The caller says "I want to know who the hell is sending these alerts out. What right do you have to send these alerts to Niagara Falls, wake me up at five-o-clock in the f*cking morning?"
While Niagara Regional Police don't have a fine mechanism in place, other police forces outline on their websites that there are fines for calling 911 as a joke or misusing their emergency line is punishable by fines.
For example, the Chatham-Kent Police say online, "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." They do not disclose what those fines are.