Sheriff’s Office dispatchers would like to remind the public not to let children play with cell phones.
Recently, a small child called Sheriff’s dispatchers repeatedly during the course of a day, needlessly tying up phone lines and taking up dispatchers time. It was apparent to dispatchers she was playing with a cell phone belonging to an adult but she was too young for dispatchers to find out who she was, where she was calling from, or to convince her to find and adult.
“We want adults to teach their children how to call 911 in an emergency – that is important,” said Lt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff, who heads up the Sheriff’s Office Communications Division. “But it is important for everyone to understand that cell phones aren’t a toy and should not be used as such.”
Even when a phone is deactivated, it can still be used to call 911. Federal law requires that cell phones must be able to call 911 at all times. As long as an old cell phone is functional, it can be used as an emergency phone.
“People think if a phone is deactivated it won’t make any calls at all, but that isn’t true. This incident took up a lot of time on the part of our dispatchers – time needed to answer real calls from people who really needed our help,” Lt. Sprinke-Huff said.
Another important piece of information for cell phone owners: If you call the Sheriff’s Office on a cell phone – on regular phone lines or on 911 – dispatchers cannot tell where you are calling from like they can on a regular hard-line phone. You must stay on the line and tell dispatchers where you are so they can send assistance to you.