A comforter stolen from a laundry mat, a lizard in the printer and someone else just “wanting to talk.” These are real reasons people are using to call 911. It's becoming quite the problem all over the bay area.
It’s one of the most stressful jobs, being a 911 dispatcher and recent bogus calls are making it worse.
(Here’s on of those calls we transcribed from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)
Operator: “911 what’s your emergency,”
Caller: “I put a comforter in my washer. It's a pretty nice comforter, like $50, and they just took it out of my washer.”
Yes, that’s a real call.
It’s just one of several in Hillsborough County taking up the time of dispatchers who are trained to walked people through real emergencies like a medical issue, murders, and robberies.
Caller: “I’m calling because I have a baby lizard in my house, and he crawled in my printer,”
Operator: “The baby crawled in your printer?”
Caller: “No a lizard,”
Operator: “Oh a lizard.”
While these, are more cases in Hillsborough, it’s the same in Hernando.
Amanda Smalley of Brooksville was arrested last week for calling 911 several times “just to talk.” Carolee Hammand, of Spring Hill was arrested for calling 911 nearly 10 times asking for a ride.
“It’s just not okay,” said Denise Maloney, spokesperson for the Hernando County Sheriff’s office.
Maloney worked as a 911 operator for 26 years. She says when you’re focusing on emergencies someone fooling around is anything but funny.
“It’s aggravating to say the least,” Maloney said.
That’s not what these guys thought allegedly calling the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office to turn themselves in.
Operator: “First off, its not funny, if you have an emergency tell me what your emergency is.
If you don’t have an emergency, quit laughing and still tell me what’s going on.”
Caller: “Haha, no, we trying to turn ourselves in.”
The bottom line is, these calls are tying up valuable resources meant for emergencies only. Hernando County Sheriff Al Neinhuis says as long as calls like that continues so will the arrests.
“You’re putting lives at risk by doing this," Neinhuis said. "If a deputy is dealing with somebody who is not having an emergency that takes away from somebody who might actually need them.”
If you’re convicted of misusing the 911 system you could spend a year in jail and pay $1000 fine. If you do it four or five times you could spend up to five years in jail on felony charges.