Amber Alert controversy highlights critical service

By: Surjit Singh Flora

The recent controversy over the usage of the Amber Alert has cast a light on residents who complain that the alert is disruptive – and have gone so far as to call 9-1-1 to voice their complaints.

Whenever there is a life and death emergency, a crime in progress or a person in danger, those calls are given a higher priority.

Every second counts in an emergency. Don’t hesitate to contact 9-1-1 first during an emergency for police, fire or medical assistance.

When reporting a fire, first get yourself and your family to a safe location before calling 9-1-1.

First and foremost, other than a tax or fee applied to all landline or cellular phone bills, there is no fee to call-9–1–1. In fact, 9–1–1 can actually be called from a cell phone, even if it doesn’t have a plan. If the battery is charged, it can access 9–1–1.

If there is a crime in progress, then call 9-1-1.

That doesn’t mean complaining about a noisy party or a parking complaint – for those issues, you can call 3-1-1. If it related to the police, call your local police service, such as Peel Regional Police 905-453-3311

In a recent online post, Peel Police stated, “While we understand that a water leak from your refrigerator is concerning and annoying, it’s definitely not a call for 9-1-1, and no, we won’t come and clean it up. Instead, shut off the water and call a plumber.”

The matter was also highlighted earlier this year during the Amber Alert issued for Riya Rajkumar.

Police issued the alert at 11:36 p.m. on Feb. 14 over concerns for Riya’s safety. From that time until approximately 3 p.m. on Feb. 15, police received 208 calls through its 9-1-1 system. 43 per cent of those calls were deemed to be a misuse of the system.

This will destroy our program, you can’t take away TV completely, it has to be secondary.”

“While many citizens called in with information they felt might assist the investigation, many members of the public deliberately called 9-1-1 to voice their displeasure at receiving the Amber Alert at a such a later hour,” a representative from Peel Police stated. Some other remarks were made to their call centre that night: • “No one can watch TV until this child is found.

• “You have an Amber Alert that I can’t get off my TV.”

• “How can I make a complaint about you guys abusing the National Emergency System?”

• “She’s with her father, I don’t think this is a national emergency.”

• “This is an invasion of my privacy.”

• “We are trying to watch the Leaf game.”

Additionally, a recent Amber Alert issued on July 11 at 3 a.m. prompted dozens of calls to 9-1-1 operators by people complaining that the alert woke them up.

There are many individuals that understand not only the system, but the feeling of the people who’ve lost their loved ones.

“Don’t like the #AmberAlert notification waking you up? Turn your phone off at night. Oh, you leave it on in case of an emergency? You mean… like an amber alert? The system’s not perfect, but it does work,” Also: What. If. It. Was. Your Kid.#stopwhining #priorities,said Twitter user Taylor Renkema.

Police have said in a recent report that misuse of the 9-1-1 system takes up time that could be devoted to real emergencies.

Only contact 9-1-1 in an emergency. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire or ambulance departments.

If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency, you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call centre determine if you need emergency assistance.

Many of the firefighters, paramedic, police officers can occasionally be frustrated or annoyed at a false alarm, particularly if someone is calling as a prank. About 70 per cent of calls are false alarms.

(Police) • Peel Regional Police: (905) 453-3311 • Town of Caledon: (905) 584-2241 •

In a non-emergency situation where the safety of people or property is not at immediate risk, please use the following non-emergency Communication Centre numbers:

Caledon Village: (519) 927-3041

(Fire Department) • Mississauga: (905) 456- 5700 • Brampton: (905) 456- 5788 •

Caledon: (905) 584- 2272

(Paramedic Services) • Peel Region: (1-800) 668-7821.

:Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist, freelance writer and popular media commentator on current affairs, based out of Brampton.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
editor@asiametro.ca

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