Ever since cell phones have become a personal staple, police departments have had a new nuisance to deal with− “pocket-dial” 911 calls.
“They’ve become really common, we get several of them every week,” said Staff Sgt. Troy Durand with the Golden/Feild RCMP Detachment.
Cell phones with keys on the exterior of the phone can dial accidently while in pockets and purses. And 911, often programmed in cell phones as an emergency number, is a common “pocket dial.”
“It wastes a lot of time for us, because we are obligated to look into every single call we get,” said Durand. A centralized RCMP office will call back the cell phone, but those calls often are not answered because the phone is on silent, or the owner doesn’t recognize the number and chooses not to answer.
Local RCMP then have to try to track down the owner, which means driving around the area where the cell towers indicate the call came from. If the call comes from a pay-by-you-go phone, then it isn’t registered and the owner is unknown, making it even more difficult to make sure no one is in distress.
Most cell phones have a “lock” function, rendering the keys or touchscreen useless until the phone is “unlocked.” This is the best way to prevent “pocket dials.”
As these calls are accidental, there are no charges or fines handed out, however police are asking people to be careful with their cell phones.
“We just want people to be careful, because if we’re tracking down a ‘pocket dial,’ then we’re not somewhere else where we may be needed,” said Durand.