- By David Van Dyk
- Published: September 3rd, 2013
Residents reach out to law enforcement after power outage delays airing of the newest “Breaking Bad” episode
As the call came into the Fairfield Police Department, the dispatcher answered the phone and heard a worried voice over the line. But it was not because of a robbery, a kidnapping or even a cat in a tree. It was to complain about a television show, or rather the lack thereof.
As a point of reference, if your problem is not an immediate emergency, it might be best to let the boys in blue deal with the bigger issues at hand.
As families throughout Fairfield, Conn. gathered ‘round to watch the much-anticipated episode of the hit TV show “Breaking Bad” Sunday, Aug. 18, they experienced a very disturbing revelation: the cable was out.
According to Gabriel Falcon, a reporter for CNN, the situation caused mass hysteria.
“A power outage knocked out cable service Sunday evening in parts of Connecticut, leaving Cablevision customers unable to watch television, including the hit show now in its final season,” Falcon said. “While most viewers chose to wait for service to be restored, others opted for a far less rational course of action: calling 911.”
Unfortunately, the families’ rapid responses were not met with enthusiasm from the police department.
After several calls, the Fairfield Police Department posted on their official Facebook page.
“We are receiving numerous 911 calls regarding the Cablevision outage. This is neither an emergency or a police related concern. Please direct your inquiries to Cablevision. 911 should only be called for Life Threatening Emergencies ONLY.”
Regrettably, this exploitation of the emergency system is not limited to the above incident. It happens all too often and oftentimes stops qualified officials from handling an authentic emergency.
My suggestion: the next time you have a problem and think of contacting your local police department, ask if it is something you can handle yourself.
Michael Rosenfield, New Hampshire bureau chief for CBS Boston’s WBZ-TV News, reported a startling story of a woman putting in multiple non-emergency 911 calls.
“A Hooksett, New Hampshire woman has called 911 10 times this month, and Hooksett Police say now she went too far,” Rosenfield wrote in the article. “Jeanie Dufresne was arrested over the weekend for calling 911 for a pen.”
Dufresne was arrested for misuse of 911. Interestingly enough, Dufresne has a history of calling 911 for things like wanting to talk to somebody. I would not exactly call that life threatening. Same goes for lack of a pen.
The 911 emergency system exists so that any civilian in trouble can dial the triple digits and know that there will be someone on the other end every time, ready to send help. If an individual dials 911 for anything other than a legitimate crisis, it ties up resources that could be helping someone else.
This not only touches on the local level, but also on the federal level, involving prank calls to the Coast Guard.
Hoax calls are made to the Coast Guard all too often and many times go untraced. David McCormick, however, was not so lucky. According to Henry Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle, McCormick put in a false call to the Coast Guard and was subsequently arrested after a chase along the coastline.
When fraud calls or pointless 911 requests are made, it inevitably restrains resources from responding to an emergency situation, whether in the city or along the coastline. This not only costs time, but also, should a response be made, money is spent unnecessarily.