HILLSBORO, Ore. – Washington County is publishing what it believes are frivolous 911 calls each week in a new social media campaign called “You called 911 for that?!”
The No. 1 call this week featured a man frustrated because his debit card did not work at a gas station that was actually closed:
“A person called in to report that his debit card wouldn't work at a gas station, which was closed at the time of the call. You called 911 for that?!”
The caller said Cantonese (a Chinese dialect) was his main language but he did speak in broken English. He said he recently moved to America. The dispatcher said she would get a translator on the line but then a gas station worker arrived and helped.
The Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency said it has a limited number of 911 phone lines and circulated a press release Wednesday which stated that “it's critical that those lines are kept available to those that have actual emergencies."
The agency hopes that by highlighting these calls it can help educate the public and direct people to the non-emergency numbers.
The campaign prompted some lively comments on the WCCCA Facebook page, where one commenter thought the effort wasn't well thought out.
Cindy Davidson commented:
Don't think you are just asking for people to call you with ridiculous calls so they can get chosen for the week? Also, how exactly does shaming people on a Facebook page, that most people don't know exists, help reduce the calls?
The runner up this week was a woman who called 911 because a teenager was smoking on the MAX platform. The platform was a ‘No Smoking Area’ she says. She was concerned about having an allergy attack. She believed that smoking on the platform was a felony.
The campaign has also gotten lively comments on the KGW Facebook page as well. Some commenters have said the callers shouldn't have dialed 911. Others say it's not appropriate to single out someone who doesn't speak English well.
WCCA Performance Manager Mark Chandler said the dispatch center serves a diverse community and deals with language barriers all the time. Chandler said the caller was able to clearly say that he was having trouble pumping gas. Chandler went on to say that having problems with pumping gas was not an appropriate use of 911.
Chandler said that the campaign's purpose was to “remind the public that 9-1-1 should be used for police, fire or medical emergencies when life or property is in jeopardy and immediate assistance is necessary.”
Chandler release more top contenders for the pick of the week to KGW Wednesday afternoon.
The police non-emergency numbers are:
- Washington County - 503-629-0111
- Multnomah County - 503-823-3333
- Clackamas County - 503-655-8211
- Clark County- (360) 397-2211
Additional calls released by WCCCA below
Man loses cat
A man calls to make a civil rights complaint against an officer