Non-Emergency 911 Calls - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/23/06-Smith County

Non-Emergency 911 Calls

Three important numbers we never forget in emergencies...911. You'll be surprised to hear who's holding up the line, when you need it most. Smith County 911 manager about the growing number of non emergency calls.

When you dial 911, seconds count. But, not everyone uses it strictly for emergencies.

Both, Smith County and the City of Tyler dispatchers receive non emergency calls from people who treat it like the information hotline 411. While others, try to talk to their cell phone providers.

Caller: "I was trying to change my pin number."

Dispatcher: "Okay, ma'am you have reached 911, this is for emergencies only. If you have a cell phone problem you need to contact your cell phone company."

The Smith County 911 Center answers approximately 5,000 calls a month and 10 percent of those have nothing to do with an emergency.

911 Operations Manager, Yolanda Muhammad, says answering your non emergency requests could mean delays in real emergencies. "It does tie up some of the dispatcher time and it keeps them on the line when they could be working with someone that has an emergency. So it affects the dispatchers time and someone who might be waiting for a dispatcher," says Yolanda.

This is just one example of the non emergency calls Smith County dispatchers receive.

Dispatcher: "Smith County 911, what is your emergency?"

Caller: "Uh, I'm watching a movie and a guy is beating another guy with a bat."

Dispatcher: "A movie?"

Caller: "I got it from Blockbuster."

Dispatcher: "Okay, and what do you want me to do about that? What are you wanting?"

Caller: "What can you do?"

Dispatch: "There is nothing we can do. If you don't want to watch it, then turn it off."

Caller: "Should I watch it?"

Dispatch: "That's up to you ma'am."

"If it has nothing to do with an emergency of any kind. Then the dispatchers tell them they only need to call 911 in an emergency," says Yolanda.

It's important to remember to call only when it's an emergency because when time matters, you and your family cannot wait.

The Tyler Police Department says if you knowingly call 911 with a non emergency, you could be faced with a Class B misdemeanor. Punishable up to a $2,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.

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