Friday, February 29, 2008

911 staffers quit over monitor cameras

Two emergency dispatchers in Carroll County, New Hampshire, resigned after security cameras were installed so the sheriff could observe employees.

Sheriff Scott Carr had the cameras installed so he could monitor the center from home after he discovered a few of the dispatchers misbehaving. "I just happened to show up one evening unannounced, and I saw a road race in progress," Carr said. "Two cars were racing around the administration building."

Carr said the employees were good at their jobs, and he didn't want to fire them. So he instead notified county commissioners and the call center employees that cameras wer being installed. Some dispatchers said they got used to the cameras.

"We acted kind of stiff for a few days, and then we just go on with business," dispatcher Tracy Waterman said. "It doesn't really affect any of us." Two dispatchers resigned after the cameras were installed, and local newspapers have examined what some have called an invasive management style.

Carr said he has used the cameras to check up on the dispatchers both on his office computer and his home computer. "I saw one of my people leave. I watched him walk down the hallway out the door and clicked to another camera and watched him get into his car and leave the building," Carr said. "I watched it for 12 to 15 minutes. My other dispatcher got out of the car with a banana split and an ice cream sundae in the other hand."

Officials said that installing the cameras was legal, and the county commissioner's office confirmed that there was open discussion about putting the cameras online, and signs were posted.

Carr has worked for Carroll County for 30 years, nine of them as sheriff. He said he hopes to leave office in December surrounded by less drama, but he said critics just come with the job. (info from WMUR TV and Dispatch magazine)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Former 911 dispatcher sues former boss

A former Missouri 911 dispatcher sued the Texas County presiding commissioner last week, alleging sexual harassment that included physical restraint and grabbing and biting her breast.

Carol Wilson also says in the suit that Commissioner Don Shellhammer retaliated when she complained. Her work hours were reduced and she was issued unwarranted "write-ups." Shellhammer said, "I haven't done any of that" and said Wilson "is after money."

The suit says Wilson was subjected to "unwelcome sexual remarks and conduct" by Shellhammer in May and June 2006.

Shellhammer, the suit says, told Wilson he "was in lust with her," made "several offers" to take her to a hotel room, told her to come to his home "for a drink when his wife was not home," and "grabbed plaintiff and used physical force to restrain plaintiff while pulling off plaintiff's shirt and bra, and then bit plaintiff's right breast."

The suit says on another occasion Shellhammer hugged Wilson, stuck his tongue in her ear and squeezed her breast.

The commissioner said Wilson was in his home once because he invited her there to "pick something up." "I was trying to help her out," he said.

Shellhammer said investigators from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission questioned him in the past. He said he believes their probe cleared him.

However, Wilson's lawyer said that the EEOC found cause to refer the case to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, which issued "a right to sue letter." The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25,000, lost wages and benefits and attorneys fees. It also asks for a court order "to prohibit defendant from engaging in further discriminatory practices." (info from Springfield MO News-Leader)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kid made 911 prank call from daycare

Children who call 911 to get help in emergencies are getting younger and younger. So are the kids who call 911 for fun.

A man in New Hampshire learned that cellphones are bad toys for kids, even after they're deactivated.

The state's emergency call center got a report of a plane crash near Hudson, NH from a 911 caller who sounded like a child. The caller hung up immediately. There were no other reports from the public, so police assumed they were looking for a prankster, not a crash.

Investigators traced the call to a deactivated cellphone, and the owner said his six-year-old son had the phone at daycare. The child's teacher talked to the boy, and retrieved the phone from him. Police determined that the youngster did indeed place the call.

Fortunately for the phone's owner, Police Lieutenant Bob Tousignant wrote the incident off as a chance to teach the child about the proper use of 911. (info from

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Store clerk refused to call 911 for stabbing victim

After a 14-year-old boy was chased into a Livermore, California convenience store by an assailant and stabbed, the boy asked the store's clerk to call 911. The boy was told to go outside and call from a pay phone.

Police and employees of Fast & Easy Food & Liquor said that a miscommunication occurred between the boy and the clerk. The clerk thought he waw kidding, Livermore police Detective Joshua Ratcliffe said. "According to the (security) video at the store, it was not really obvious (the stabbing occurred)."

The assault took place Jan. 26 and was gang-related, police said. The victim told investigators that he and four friends passed a wedding reception party, and one of the boy's friends exchanged words with a party guest, later identified as Daniel Cortez-Beltran.

According to a police report, the suspect -- who identified himself as a Sureno gang member -- confused the boys for rival gang members because they were wearing red. He then began to chase the five boys, who fled inside the Fast & Easy. The four friends hid in the back of the store while the victim remained at the counter. The suspect followed them inside, walked up to the boy, stabbed him in the torso with a knife and ran out. The victim was transported to a local hospital and released the next day. According to a police report, the boy asked the clerk to call 911, but the clerk told the boy to go outside to use a pay phone.

The store's manager, Shekher Dhungel, said Fast & Easy has only two employees. The employee working at the time was Baljit Singh.

"I didn't see it happen, and I thought they were joking," Singh said. "Then, another customer said (the boy) had been stabbed, so I called police. But by that time, someone else had made the call." Dhungel said the following day, the boy's mother came in to complain that police were not called sooner. Ratcliffe said he watched the security video and said it was difficult to spot the assault. He said gang members frequent the store. (info from San Jose Mercury News)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cops found pot farm after accidental 911 call

A man was arrested Friday in Stanton, California when authorities responding to a hang-up 911 call discovered what they believed to be an indoor marijuana growing operation. The 911 call was apparently made by a computer in the home, said spokesman Jim Amormino. "What set the computer off, we don't know."

No one spoke during the call, but authorities traced it to a home. When responding deputies checked the license plate on a vehicle outside, they discovered the owner was wanted on a $15,000 warrant.

They knocked on the door and looked inside and saw packages of what appeared to be marijuana on a table. After entering the home, they found what Amormino described as a "sophisticated" marijuana farm with about 100 plants, and a handgun. A man in the home was arrested. (info from KNBC)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Family can sue 911 staff over love triangle killing

The family of a man slain by a fired 911 dispatcher can sue the killer's co-workers, who allegedly looked up the victim's records for their colleague shortly before the triple murder, a federal appeals court ruled earlierthis month. The family of Mark Phillips, of Carnegie, Pennsylvania can argue that Allegheny County employees endangered him through their actions.

Michael A. Michalski is serving life in prison for killing ex-girlfriend Gretchen Ferderbar, her sister, Linda Ferderbar, and Phillips, her new boyfriend, in 2003. Michalski had just been fired from the county 911 center after looking up Phillips' vehicle and license-plate records himself. Soon afterward, a distraught Michalski called co-workers to say he "had nothing left to live for" and that Phillips and Gretchen Ferderbar were going to "pay for putting him in his present situation," the court opinion said.

Despite that call, dispatchers Danielle Tush and Brian Craig, who allegedly helped look up Phillips' records for Michalski, never alerted the pair or their local police departments, the suit charges. The complaint alleges that after Tush and Craig provided Michalski with confidential information, Michalski used that information to hunt down and kill Mark Phillips.

Michalski found the victims at a home. Prosecutors believe he planned to take Gretchen Ferderbar by force, but started shooting when the others intervened.

Lawyer Philip Ignelzi filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of Phillips' mother, Jeanne, his executor. The appeals court also said she could revise her claims against 911 center supervisor Daniel Nussbaum, who had fired Michalski and found him "volatile" afterward. "Despite recognizing that Michalski had used the 911 call center's computer system to track Mark Phillips, Nussbaum made no effort to detain Michalski, to deter him from reaching Mark Phillips or to warn Mark Phillips of Michalski's potentially violent behavior," Nygaard said.

Nussbaum instead contacted police in McCandless Township, where Michalski lived, while also contacting or trying to contact Gretchen Ferderbar, the opinion stated.(info from

Thursday, February 21, 2008

She called Best Buy about bomb, not 911,
but she's a wacko

Police say a woman called in a bomb threat to Best Buy in Vineland, New Jersey last week because she was angry about being banned from the store following a shoplifting charge filed the day before. Diane Gregor was charged with reporting a false public alarm and released on a summons pending court action.

Police found several employees outside of the building when they arrived at the store at 8:15 p.m. The full extent of the store's evacuation was unclear. Officers searched the store, but did not find an explosive device. An employee who took the call told police the caller sounded like a woman trying to sound like a man. The caller said, "There's a bomb in the store, and it's gonna go boom."

Manager Aamir Babar was asked if he had any recent problems with employees or customers. He immediately recalled Gregor was asked to leave the store earlier in the day because of a shoplifting incident the previous day, and police went to her house.

Police allegedly found Gregor seated in the kitchen of her home with a cellphone on the table. After she allowed police to come in, Gregor allegedly said, "I didn't call" before officers questioned her about the bomb threat.

Gregor allegedly yelled, "I didn't do it" several times before telling police she went to Best Buy earlier to buy a wire splitter for her computer, but was told to leave because she was involved in a shoplifting incident Monday.

During an additional interview at headquarters, Gregor allegedly admitted making the bomb threat because she was angry she was ordered out of the store. In Monday's incident, police charged Gregor with shoplifting a AC adaptor and resisting arrest. Gregor allegedly tried to kick out the window of a police car and tried to prevent an officer from handcuffing her. (info from

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Maybe a new record: over 27,000 prank 911 calls

Hayward, California police and federal investigators tracked down and arrested a cellphone caller believed to have phoned 911 more than 27,000 times and making bodily noises, muttering in a disguised voice, and making beep tones.

Last Wednesday night, police arrested John Triplette on suspicion of abusing the 911 emergency line, a misdemeanor punishable by $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail. "He completely overwhelmed our system," said Desi Calzada, manager of the Hayward Communications Center, which operates 911. "He delayed the answering of other 911 calls because we were answering his."

It started last May, when the Highway Patrol's communication center in Vallejo began receiving multiple 911 calls from a mysterious caller using a T-Mobile cellphone. Over a seven-month period, the caller placed 17,000 calls to the CHP. In early January, Hayward's dispatch center took over the local 911 calls and became the new target.

"The caller would make various noises, including grunts and other bodily noises, minimal conversation in a disguised voice, beeps from the touch pad, etc.," according to Lt. Chris Orrey, a spokeswoman for the Hayward Police. In a single week, the center received 1,327 calls from the same phone, inflating incoming calls by 30 percent.

Then Calzada and Hayward police Detective Bill Alexander contacted the FCC, which can identify a caller's location.

But before he was nabbed, the caller managed to grunt in another 10,000 calls to the police, as well as 4,000 to the Solano County Sheriff's Department, Orrey said.

When the investigators finally located the cellphone at Triplette's home, he apologized for making the calls, according to Orrey. His explanation for all those calls? "Because it's free." (info from San Francisco Chronicle)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Three boys may go to jail for fake 911 calls

Three East Naples, Florida boys aged 13 to 16 were arrested over the weekend for allegedly calling 911 and reporting two fake robberies. Steven Charleston, James Prudhomme, and Roger Roodjery, are each charged with misusing the 911 system, which is a third degree felony.

Deputies say it started when they pulled over a 17-year-old on Saturday night. Charleston, Prudhomme and Roodjery were passengers in the car. The driver was arrested on misdemeanor charges and deputies told the three passengers to walk home.

Minutes later dispatchers received two 911 calls. One reported that someone had been robbed; the other claimed that a Chinese restaurant was robbed by men wearing masks.
Because of the nature of the calls, several patrol cars and a helicopter were diverted from another unrelated investigation.

After searching both areas, deputies determined that the calls were false. They were able to trace the telephone numbers back to Charleston, Prudhomme and Roodjery; and the three were arrested. Prudhomme faces additional charges of obstruction and providing false information to a law enforcement officer because he initially gave deputies a fake name and date of birth. If convicted, each one faces up to a year in jail. (info from NBC2 News)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Burglars accidentally called 911 and got busted

Fresno, California Sheriff's deputies reported that two men who tried to steal copper wire from a home apparently cut the phone line which triggered an automatic call to 911 and were arrested.

Deputies showed up at the house and caught and arrested Daniel Avila and Jose Armando Garza on burglary charges. (info from

Friday, February 15, 2008

Woman died in fire after slow 911 response

A woman died in a house fire on January 29 after she waited seven rings before a 911 operator answered her emergency call, and was then put on hold for an additional delay.

Brenda Orr of Doylestown, Pennsylviania, had multiple sclerosis and was calling for help as flames reached her bed before she died. When emergency help arrived at her home, she was dead and her body was smoking, officials said.

"They weren't paying attention to their job. They just were not doing their job properly," Emergency Communications Director Brent Wiggins said of the incident. Officials began an investigation into what caused the phone delays and disciplined some employees. (info from UPI)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Man called 911 before shooting himself in NYC

On February 8, a man called 911 and stated that he was suicidal, then shot himself in the head at the Sept. 11 Memorial in Staten Island, New York near the ferry terminal. Police immediately responded and found the victim pointing a gun to his head.

The intensity of the scene could be heard via scanner reports. "He's got a gun to his head! He's got a gun to his head!" yelled one officer, just moments before cops affirmed that shots had been fired.

According to police, Tobias Ganz was a German citizen who suffered from depression and had previously attempted suicide. He stuffed a suicide note inside his pocket before calling 911 about 5 a.m. He then shot himself. Authorities don't believe that Ganz, who died at Richmond University Medical Center, had any personal ties to 9/11.

"He was a bit strange," said a neighbor. "I always thought he would do something like this. It didn't surprise me."

The previous week, Ganz moved out of his apartment during a money dispute with his landlord. He paid what he owed, but before he left, he slashed his landlord's tires, the neighbor said. (info from the Staten Island Advance, New York Post, and New York Daily News)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Police responded to 911 call to 911 center,
and found dispatcher with drugs

A 911 dispatcher was arrested while on the job in Virginia last May. She was caught with cocaine and marijuana and was immediately relieved of her duties.

Police answered a 911 call at the very place that receives emergency calls, the Emergency Communications Center. Jeanine Miller, a newly hired dispatcher, was suspected of having drugs at work.

She had been on the job after five weeks training as a dispatcher when she was arrested. Miller was charged with the felony of drug possession. "Occasionally, things like this happen and what we want to say is thank God it doesn't happen very often,” said Tom Hansen of the Emergency Communications Center.

Miller again no longer works at the ECC. She appeared in court and was released on bond. A condition of her bond is that she stay drug free. (info from WCAV TV)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Woman made over 600 911 calls in two days

This could be a new 911 wacko record!

Captain Lynette LaRocque with the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office in Georgia says she arrested Linda Barber for making excessive calls to 911: over 600 times in two days.

Dispatch responders say Barber called constantly, not making much sense. LaRocque says Barber also called the Milledgeville Water Authority excessively. The water authority was able to identify her voice, and police arrested Barber for making harassing phone calls.

Barber was being held and treated at Central State Hospital. (info from WMAZ TV)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Woman called 911 for "cutie" cop

A woman who called 911 in Oregon in 2006 to request "the cutest cop I've seen" sent back to her home got a date all right - a court date.

The same cop arrested her on charges of misuse of the emergency dispatch system. Washington County Sheriff's Sgt. David Thompson said it all started with a noise complaint called in by neighbors of Lorna Dudash. The deputy was sent to check on the complaint, knocked on her door, then left.

Thompson said Dudash then called 911, asking that the "cutie pie" deputy return. "He's the cutest cop I've seen in a long time. I just want to know his name," Dudash told the dispatcher. "Heck, it doesn't come very often a good man comes to your doorstep."

After listening to some more, followed by a bit of silence, the dispatcher asked again why Dudash needed the deputy to return. "Honey, I'm just going to be honest with you, OK? I just thought he was cute. I'm 45 years old and I'd just like to meet him again, but I don't know how to go about doing that without calling 911," she said.

"I know this is absolutely not in any way, shape or form an emergency, but if you would give the officer my phone number and ask him to come back, would you mind?" The deputy returned, verified that there was no emergency and arrested her for misusing the 911 system, an offense punishable by a fine of up to several thousand dollars and a year in jail. Thompson said it was the first case he knew of in which someone called the emergency line for such a personal reason. (info from

Friday, February 8, 2008

Twin 11-year-old girls made 122 prank 911 calls

For nearly a week, Lorain, Ohio police received prank 911 calls from a cellphone. The phone number was traced to a specific block, but officers were unable to locate the caller.

On Sunday, a call was traced to a house, but when the investigation didn't turn up the caller, officers tried the house directly behind that residence. An adult at the home told police her 11-year-old twin daughters were given a cellphone, but it was not activated. The officer called 911 from the cellphone and police dispatchers matched it to the 122 calls that had been made over four days by the girls.

According to police, the 911 calls were "harassing and taunting" in nature. The girls had called dispatchers various names and made sarcastic cries for help. Often the caller had referred to herself as "we" and during one call the caller identified herself as one of the twins and gave her age.

The twin girls admitted to making some of the calls, but said they were trying to call a friend and dialed 911 by accident. Both girls were cited for 122 counts of delinquency by reason of disruption of public service. Disrupting public service is a felony and if convicted, the girls could be sent to a detention facility. (info from the Cleveland Morning Journal)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Nice quiet kid" called 911
to say he killed his father

A neighbor called him a nice, quiet kid. But Mesa, Arizona police say a 15-year-old boy who called them Wednesday afternoon said he had just shot and killed his father. Police found the body of a man shot to death inside the home.

The boy was taken into custody. Police did not release the victim's name pending notification of family and said they did not know if anybody else was home at the time of the shooting.

Sheila Fram, a neighbor, called the victim "assertive and aggressive," but added, "You could see that he was a nice guy." Another neighbor, Maria Barajas called the apparent killer "a nice, quiet kid." Kayla Akins said she has known the boy since she was eight. "He was a person who was always there," she said, adding that she last spoke to him about a week ago and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. (info from The Arizona Republic)

Injured murder suspect arrested after calling 911

Injured and disoriented after a night on the run, a man suspected of killing his estranged wife in November, 2007 called 911 for help with his injuries, leading officers to his hiding place.

Sheriff's deputies from Clark County, Washington found Larry Van Schaick in a drainage depression. He was treated in a hospital, interviewed by detectives, and jailed on suspicion of ­first-degree murder.

Van Schaick was wanted in connection with the death of Erin Van Schaick, who had been strangled. Deputies had been to a house where Erin was, after a call about a fight. A man who lived there came home and saw another man, believed to be Van Schaick, inside with his wrists apparently slashed.

The injured man fled. The witness ran to call 911. When officers arrived, they saw blood near one of the doors and found Erin Van Schaick's body in a bedroom. Officers tried to find Larry Van Schaick using tracking dogs, but the dogs lost the trail.

Van Schaick said he didn't know where he was when he called 911, but described his surroundings to dispatchers while they traced his cellphone signals to guide deputies to him. (info from The Columbian)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

911 call led to strip search of innocent woman

In this story, the 911 caller was not the wacko.

Hope Steffey's night of terror began with a call to 911 on October 20, 2006. It ended with her face down and sobbing on an Ohio jail cell floor, naked except for toilet paper she wrapped around herself for warmth. Steffey says sheriff's deputies used excessive force and assaulted her during a strip search, according to a lawsuit. Stark County Sheriff Timothy Swanson denies the allegation.

Steffey's attorney says her clothes, including underwear, were stripped by at least seven male and female deputies and jailers. She lay face down in handcuffs at the time. "Hope begged and pleaded with her assailants to stop," the lawsuit says. Her attorney, David Malik, said Steffey was never asked to voluntarily remove her clothes. Swanson said Steffey was asked to remove her clothes but refused. He said deputies took them off for her own safety.

"This could be your wife or anyone's wife," her husband Greg Steffey said. He said he still can't believe this happened to Hope, a 125-pound woman who, earlier that night, turned to police for help. "You don't treat people like this," Greg Steffey said. "I don't think murderers are treated like this much less people charged with disorderly conduct."

Steffey's ordeal with the deputies began after her cousin called police for help. In a 911 call, her cousin said Steffey had been assaulted by another cousin.

When a deputy arrived, he asked for Steffey's driver's license. She accidentally turned over her dead sister's license, which she keeps in her wallet as a memento. The deputy refused to give it back and told Steffey to "shut up about your dead sister," according to her attorney. Steffey was arrested and taken to jail. She was later charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

After her clothes were removed, she was locked in a cell. To stay warm, she wrapped herself in toilet paper, and remained in the cell for six hours. During that time, she was not allowed to use a phone or seek medical attention for injuries she suffered that night, including a cracked tooth, bulging disc and bruises, the lawsuit says. The sheriff denies that. (info from Mansfield News-Journal)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Woman jailed for calling 911 about pizza

An 86-year-old North Carolina woman spent two nights in jail in 2006 after she repeatedly called 911 to complain about a pizza delivery problem. Dorothy Densmore was charged with misusing the 911 system after she allegedly called the emergency line 20 times in about a half hour.

Densmore told police dispatchers she was angry that a pizza restaurant wouldn't deliver to her, and demanded that they arrest the restaurant owner. Instead, they arrested her.

But the five-foot, 98-pound woman wasn't about to go quietly. She scratched, kicked and bit the hand of the police officer who came to arrest her. Densmore is also charged with resisting arrest.

While it's rare for someone to be charged for abusing the emergency line, Densmore kept calling even after she was asked to stop. The woman also complained to police that someone at the restaurant called her a "crazy old coot." (info from CBC)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Woman called 911 about stuck squirrel

Vernetta Geric is a an operator at the Allegheny County 911 Command Center in Western Pennsylvania, trained to handle critical emergencies.

In 2006, a caller said she needed a police officer right away.

"What's the problem?" said Geric.

"I have a large tree in my backyard ... there's a squirrel stuck in the tree."

"Ma'am, this is a squirrel? In a tree? What's the problem?"

"It's been there for about an hour. It's crying; it needs help. There's a problem," the caller insisted.

"Ma'am, sorry, but this isn't necessarily a police issue. It's a wild animal, sitting in a tree. It's supposed to be doing that. The squirrel will be OK. It'll climb down when it's ready," Geric said.

"Are you telling me you're not sending me an officer?"

"Sorry ma'am, this isn't a police issue. An officer wouldn't be able to do anything. The squirrel will be just fine, really."

"But police officers help people in need right?"

"Yes, ma'am. Squirrels are not people." (info from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Woman ticketed when dog called 911

Who needs the bomb squad, the police or the fire department? Probably not Sylvia D'Antonio, because she has Slayer the wonder dog. The New Jersey woman claimed she trained the five-year-old German shepherd to sniff out bombs, drugs and fireworks, and to extinguish small fires.

But D'Antonio's newest lesson — teaching Slayer to dial 911 — landed her in trouble in August, 2005. Parsippany Police Sgt. Yvonne Christiano said a concerned dispatcher sent officers to D'Antonio's home after three consecutive non-verbal 911 calls were traced to her home.

"There was no verbal response when the dispatcher picked up the calls, just heavy breathing," Christiano said. But when police arrived at D'Antonio's home, they found her in good health. She told them that she had been training her dog to make calls to 911. D'Antonio also acknowledged that she should not have used the emergency line to train a non-service dog, Christiano said.

D'Antonio alleges that she informed police in advance that she would be training Slayer and had told them not to respond to any calls from her address. She also said that she had trained the dog to detect bombs, drugs and fireworks, and the dog recently extinguished flames from a firework that had ignited on her lawn.

Police issued D'Antonio a summons for disorderly conduct. (info from Court TV)

Cat called 911 to save owner

This story isn't about a wacko, but it's a good story.

When a police officer walked into an apartment in Columbus, Ohio in January, 2005, to answer a 911 call, an orange-and-tan striped cat was lying by a telephone on the living room floor. The cat's owner, Gary Rosheisen, was on the floor, having fallen out of his wheelchair. Rosheisen said his cat, Tommy, must have hit the right buttons to call 911.

"I know it sounds kind of weird," Officer Patrick Daugherty said, unsuccessfully searching for some other explanation.

Rosheisen said he couldn't get up because of pain from osteoporosis and ministrokes that disrupt his balance. He also wasn't wearing his medical-alert necklace and couldn't reach a cord above his pillow that alerts paramedics that he needs help.

Daugherty said police received a 911 call from Rosheisen's apartment, but there was no one on the phone. Police called back to make sure everything was OK, and when no one answered, they decided to check things out. That's when Daugherty found Tommy next to the phone.

Rosheisen got the cat three years ago to help lower his blood pressure. He tried to train him to call 911, but wasn't sure if the training ever stuck. The phone in the living room is always on the floor, and there are 12 small buttons - including a speed dial for 911 right above the button for the speakerphone.

"He's my hero," Rosheisen said. (info ^ photo from CBS news)

911 call faker sentenced to ring fire house bells

In 2004, a man convicted of making a false 911 call was given an unusual sentence by an Ohio judge. Kevin Yeckel, of Madison, was sentenced to ring a bell at several fire stations, and apologize to firefighters for wasting their time.

Judge Michael Cicconetti, known for dishing out unusual sentences, required Yeckel go to all nine fire stations in the Painesville court district. Yeckel was also sentenced to 30 days in jail.

In his 911 call, Yeckel claimed he was injured. As Perry fire and police responded, Yeckel walked away.

Firefighters said they believe Cicconetti's sentence fits the crime. He is using embarrassment and humiliation to drive home the message that false alarms can put others at risk. "What if someone else had a call at the same time while they're pursuing this false alarm?" Cicconetti asked during the sentencing. "Sure, it's a crime that has to be punished." (info from WLWT TV)

Woman called 911 to complain about Burger King

In 2006, a California woman called 911 because Burger King would not make a burger her way. Here's an edited version of the 911 transcript:

Dispatcher: Sheriff’s department, how can I help you?

Woman: I’m over here at Burger King. I ordered my food three times. I asked them to make me a Western Barbeque Burger. They keep giving me a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, cheese and onions, and I’m not leaving. I want a Western Burger because I just got my kids from Tae Kwon Do, and they’re hungry.

Dispatcher: Uh-huh.

Woman: Okay. She gave me another hamburger; it’s wrong. I said four times, "I want my hamburger right.” So then the lady said, “Do you want your money back?” And I said, “No, I want my hamburger. My kids are hungry.” I said, “I am not leaving this spot,” and I said, “I will call the police,” because I want my Western Burger done right! Now is that so hard?

Dispatcher: Okay, what exactly is it you want us to do for you?

Woman: Send an officer down here.

Dispatcher: Ma’am, we’re not gonna go down there and enforce your Western Bacon Cheeseburger.

Woman: What am I supposed to do?

Dispatcher: This is between you and the manager. We’re not gonna go and enforce how to make a hamburger; that’s not a criminal issue.

Woman: So I just stand here?

Dispatcher: You need to calmly and rationally speak to the manager and figure out what to do between you.

Woman: Well that is that. You’re supposed to be here to protect me.

Dispatcher: Well, what are we protecting you from, a wrong cheeseburger?

Man accused of fake 911 calls.
One led to officer's death

In September 1995, officers from the 10th Precinct of Manhattan responded more than a dozen times to false reports of pistol-toting men, drug deals and gunshots in the blocks around the Chelsea Houses on West 26th Street.

Finally they arrested Manuel Perez, an unemployed laborer, for making 13 false 911 calls to increase the police presence in his neighborhood. One bogus call led to the death of a police officer in a car crash.

Investigators said they thought that Perez may have been making the calls fortwo years. "It's our belief that he wanted police protection in the area, and he would use these calls to get a response," said John F. Timoney, the First Deputy Police Commissioner.

It was Perez's report of gunshots to a 911 operator on September 23 that sent Officer David Willis and his partner, Officer Robert Avezzan racing down 11th Avenue 10 minutes later. As the officers responded, they were hit broadside by a postal van and Officer Willis was thrown through the side window of the patrol car, breaking his neck. He died two days later. Officer Avezzan was not seriously injured because his air bag was activated.

Timoney said investigators began looking into a pattern of false calls in the neighborhood after the officer's death, placing an electronic tag on calls that came from the area and that involved reports of gunshots or drug dealing. On Oct. 28, Samuel Sams, a 911 operator, saw the alert flash on his screen when a man called to report a drug deal near the Chelsea Houses, and Mr. Sams called Nynex to have the call traced. (info from The New York Times)

Man arrested for false 911 report of carjacking
and beating after he crashed car

A man in Portland, Oregon was arrested for calling 911 to report a fake carjacking last summer. Earl Gilliam, 18, told dispatchers he and a passenger in his car were assaulted with baseball bats and then had their car stolen.

Minutes before the 911 call, Clackamas County deputies found Gilliam's car unoccupied in a parking lot. Gilliam later admitted to deputies that he had hit a speed bump in the parking lot and crashed into a tree. The passenger in his car, 18-year-old Caleb Croteau, was severely injured in the crash, deputies said.

Croteau and Gilliam walked a half-mile mile back to Gilliam's apartment, passing an open gas station along the way where medical personnel could have been requested, according to sheriff's deputies. Croteau was listed in critical condition.

Gilliam was arrested on charges of assault, hit-and-run, initiating a false police report, improper use of 911 and reckless endangerment. (info from Fox5News Las Vegas)

911 prank call injures four firefighters

In 2006, Texas teenager Jonathan Davis was arrested for making prank calls to 911 — one of which resulted in a truck flip that injured four firefighters.

Investigators let Davis listen to the recordings of nine prank calls. He said he made seven of them and a friend of his might have made the other two.

This is the Aug. 31 call which caused the crash where firefighters were injured:
911: You said a house is on fire?
Davis: Yes ma’am. And there’s a baby in there.
911: Do you see any smoke or flames coming from the house?
Davis: Yes ma’am.

On the way to the house, Engine 508 rolled over, totaling the firetruck (which cost about $450,000) and hurting the firemen.

Scott Clements, an arson investigator, said it seems the motive for that call was a fight between Davis and his father. There wasn't word on why he made the other calls. "I’d just tell them I’m sorry," Davis said of the injured firefighters. "I deserve to go to jail for that." (info from Houstonist)

Dorm evacuated after fake 911 hostage call

Students were evacuated from a Lynchburg College dorm in Virginia just after midnight January 26 after 911 dispatchers received a false call that a man was being held against his will by someone with a weapon.

Police responded to the 911 call around 12:30 a.m. The college immediately activated the campus early-alert system and evacuated Tate Hall residents.

Police have charged David Tyler Johnson, of Hayes, with falsely summoning or giving false report to law enforcement, a misdemeanor. He is not a student at the college.

Police say that while searching Tate Hall, they received information that Johnson had been given a ride to a nearby supermarket, where he was found and taken into custody. (info from Lynchburg News & Advance)

Woman called 911 twice about theft
of non-existent lottery ticket

Police figured a woman lied about her lottery winnings after she admitted to calling 911 pretending to be someone else, according to Scotts Valley, California police Officer David Ball.

Last spring, Adriana Bartch said her winning lottery ticket worth $5,000 was snatched from her hands by a passing bicyclist. "I was just stunned, and I watched him go away on his bicycle with my ticket. Then I went home," Bartch said.

Police arrested Bartch on suspicion of filing a false police report. Ball said they received a 911 call from a woman claiming her boyfriend had stolen a lottery ticket, was unable to cash it and threatened to "get" the woman.

A police dispatcher said she recognized the 911 caller's voice as Bartch. Police brought in the self-proclaimed lottery winner. Bartch insisted she did not call 911, but then admitted she made "a mistake" and was then arrested, Ball said.

Police said another tip-off to the woman's fraudulent story was that lottery officials say there is no $5,000 prize in the "Cherry Tripler" game as Bartch had claimed. The top prize is $9,000. (photo & info from

Bored fireman arrested for fake 911 calls

A volunteer firefighter in south-central Kentucky was arrested after allegedly making false 911 calls because he was bored.

Joshua Matthew Garmon, a member of the East Barren Volunteer Fire Department, was charged last summer with nine counts of falsely reporting an incident. The false calls came from cellphones that don't work anymore except for emergency 911 calls, Detective Rusty Anderson said.

Anderson said Garmon allegedly made false reports of fires and wrecks with injuries because he wanted to go on fire runs. (info from Glasgow Daily Times)

911 dispatcher faked fire dispatch

A former Pennsylvania 911 dispatcher charged with sending police and volunteer firefighters to a brush fire that never happened, dodged a criminal record early last year when he was placed on a probation-without-a-verdict program. His father is a judge.

Joseph D. Homanko Jr. of Beaver Meadows was put on the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for a year by Judge Roger N. Nanovic. Nanovic also ordered Homanko, son of Judge Joseph Homanko, to do 20 hours of community service and continue with mental health treatment.

State police said Homanko was working as a dispatcher when he sent firefighters and police to state game lands in Packer Township, telling them there was a brush fire when there was none. Homanko's supervisor discovered the call and reported it to state police. Trooper Shelly A. Konsavage questioned Homanko, and he admitted making the false report. "Nobody called," he told Konsavage. "I just dispatched them to the call. I don't know why I did it and that is why I'm seeking counseling."

Homanko was suspended April 24, 2006 and resigned two days later. He was arrested Aug. 18 and twice ran afoul of probation officials.

He initially was given unsecured bail, meaning Homanko did not have to post cash. Probation officials alleged he violated a condition of his release by being in touch with emergency medical technicians, and was made to post $1,500. At the request of a public defender, bail was changed again to unsecured, but a curfew was put on Homanko. He was put in county prison for two days in November after he was accused of swearing at a probation officer and violating his curfew. Judge Nanovic freed him from prison, but made him post $5,000 bail. (info from the Allentown Morning Call)

Cop fired for fake 911 call about cop fight

In February, 2007, Jonesboro, Arkansas Police officer James Turnbow was fired after he made a false 911 call about "officers down."

He said, "I've got people approaching me right now. We've got officers fighting, we've got officers down. I'm trying to fend people off of here. You've got bloody noses and I don't hear any sirens."

Turnbow made the 911 call at around 2 a.m. from the Eagles Lodge. All officers on duty at the time were sent to the "fight" and all were driving on icy roads to help one officer who made a false report. (info from KAIT TV)

Man faked 911 call about being trapped in car

A man was arrested in 2005 in Omaha, Nebraska for calling 911 and falsely reporting that that he was trapped in his vehicle. Fifteen agencies got involved in trying to locate an accident the man had reported, but it turned out to be a hoax.

Shane Oknewski said he had fallen asleep while driving and that when he awoke, he was headed off the road. Oknewski told police he was pinned in his car and he didn't know where he was. He said, "I can't even move my back, legs, nothing."

Douglas County Communications Center was able to figure out his location. They found him at his apartment and arrested him on charges of false reporting and obstructing governmental operations. He pleaded not guilty. (info and photo from KETV)

Drinker called 911 to divert cops to McDonalds

A young man recently tried to divert Bellevue, Nebraska officers from the scene of a party by calling 911 on a cellphone and reporting an armed robbery at a nearby McDonald's. Police officers who sped to the restaurant found nothing amiss.

Martin A. Gonzalez was arrested about two weeks after the party on suspicion of making a false report. Police Chief John Stacey Jr. said teens have used various methods to avoid arrest, but "no one has ever been this stupid. It could have been a serious deal. Someone could have gotten in a wreck on the way."

Police arrived at a house after reports of youths drinking. He said numerous teenagers were detained, and others barricaded themselves inside the house. They refused to come out or let officers inside. While at the house, officers received a call about a robbery at the McDonald's about two miles from the house.

Few of the officers at the party responded to the robbery call because other officers were patrolling the city. When officers discovered that the report was bogus, they became suspicious of its origin and traced the call. They discovered that it had originated from a cellphone belonging to a girl whose vehicle was parked at the party, Stacey said. Investigators listened to the call and concluded that the girl had not made the call, but a male at the party had. They believe it was Gonzalez. (info from Omaha World Herald)

Woman called 911 to beat traffic ticket

A Wisconsin woman tried modern, high-tech method to evade a traffic ticket in 2006. She was stopped on suspicion of a traffic violation. It turned out she was also driving on a suspended license.

As the officer walked to his car to run a check on her driver's information, reports of a robbery at a nearby Wallgreens came over his radio. The officer let the woman go and rushed to the drugstore, where he and fellow police surrounded the building. It seemed to be the woman's lucky day.

It was until police realized that the 911 call was a fake, and recognized the woman's voice on the recording. Police say she placed the call from her cellphone as the officer was walkning to his car to check her license.

She was arrested at her home later on suspicion of misusing 911 and obstructing an investigation. (info from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Woman reported fire to 911 to get help for dog

A Middletown, Ohio woman who made a fake 911 call to get help for her trapped puppy avoided jail time but was fined $250.

Wanda Stapleton received a $500 fine and 10 days in jail after pleading guilty to making a false alarm. Judge Mark Wall suspended the jail time and half the fine, but ordered Stapleton to perform five days of community service at an animal shelter.

On September 28, 1999 Stapleton called 911 and told a dispatcher that her home was on fire. She made the call after being frustrated in two earlier calls for help for her newborn pup, which had become trapped in an exposed mattress spring. (info from Cincinnati Enquirer)

Computer hacker made WebTV boxes call 911

A Louisiana man pleaded guilty in 2005 to two federal felonies for tricking a handful of MSN TV users into running a malicious e-mail attachment that reprogrammed their set-top boxes to dial 911.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, David Jeansonne, admitted to committing a computer attack that created a threat to public health or safety, and to damaging a protected computer and causing a least $5,000 in harm.

Jeansonne targeted 18 specific MSN TV users in an online squabble when he crafted the script in July 2002, and sent it out disguised as a tool to change the colors on MSN TV's user interface. Some of the recipients forwarded it to friends, for a total of 21 victims.

Known as WebTV before it was acquired by Microsoft, MSN TV works with television set-top boxes to allow users to surf the Web and send and receive e-mail without using a PC. The boxes connect to the Internet through a local phone number. The malicious script changed the dialed number to 911. The box would summon help when it tried to make an automatic daily call to the network at midnight.

The hack resulted in police responding 10 times to false alarms at subscribers' homes. (info from Security Focus)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Retired teacher victimized by 33 fake calls to 911.
Police even broke down her door

A retired Dallas school teacher was targeted by an unidentified prankster who called 911 to report fictitious trouble at her home in early 2006. Police and firefighters repeatedly rushed to Mary Johnson's home, even breaking down her door on one occasion when she was not home to answer the door.

"It looked like the SWAT team, there were so many of them. I was really wondering what was going on," Johnson said. "They said they got a phone call that someone was shot and bleeding in my house."

Police said the caller uses a prepaid cellphone to report fictitious shootings and other crimes, and that the prankster called 33 times during a five-week period.
Police said they are obligated to respond to every call to Johnson's home, but that they no longer use lights and sirens. Johnson has posted a note on her front door alerting police to the situation.

"I really appreciate what police and firefighters are doing," she said. Investigators tried to find the person placing the calls, but the prankster used a prepaid cell phone, which is hard to trace.

Before the prank calls began, Johnson had lived a quiet life on a mostly quiet street. "I go to work and come home, and church," she said. Now, she never knows when police and firefighters will bang on her door. "Every time I hear a police car or fire truck, I tense up and say, they're coming here," she said. (info from

Deaf phone network caused prank 911 call

About two dozen police officers, including a helicopter crew and dog handlers, responded to a false 911 call placed through the Internet to report someone shot in San Diego last August.

Police said it appeared that someone used the Internet to access a nationwide phone system for the deaf, which in turn made a 911 call. Officers, told that a wounded victim was in a yard and the shooter was in a home, sped to the scene with emergency lights and sirens.

They used dogs to search the house but found only an old, unused shotgun under a bed. A 12-year-old boy at the house told police he has been the victim of other pranks by children from school who have ordered pizzas and taxis to his home. (info from San Diego Union-Tribune)

Fake veteran jailed and fined for fake 911 calls

A 19-year-old Indiana man was found guilty in mid-January of repeatedly prank calling 911 in September, claiming at one point to be a heavily armed Iraq War veteran with a hostage. As punishment, Christopher Scheibe has spent 123 days in jail and must pay $2,500 to help cover costs of response to a false crisis.

Scheibe entered an "Alford" plea to one count of making a false statement regarding a destructive device. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped four other related charges.

Judge Harris sentenced Scheibe to five years in prison, suspending all but the 123 days already served. He placed him on five years probation and ordered him to pay restitution.

Schiebe's prank phone calls led police to close several roads Sept. 8, call in a hostage negotiator and SWAT teams and even raid an innocent person's home.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathy Evans said Scheibe called 911 at about 9:15 p.m. Sept. 8. He told dispatchers his name was Marine Sgt. Joseph Anthony Ramirez, a 27-year-old who had served in Iraq for three tours of duty. He told police he was holding a girl hostage, that he had already shot her in the leg, and had applied a tourniquet.

Schiebe demanded flak jackets for all troops in Iraq and to speak with the president. When asked to let the hostage go, "Sgt. Ramirez" told a negotiator how his wife cheated on him while he was in Iraq and had left with their children. The man told police he had nothing to live for and was ready to die. Schiebe taunted police, telling them to move road blocks and fuel tankers or he would start killing people and blowing things up.

Evans said Schiebe made another prank 911 call Sept. 5, reporting a shooting. She also recounted a separate incident Sept. 10, where he called a school and claimed he had put a bomb in a locker. Evans said an officer involved in the locker search noticed the caller's voice sounded like "Sgt. Ramirez." Police eventually used phone records to track down an acquaintance of Scheibe's. That man led police to Scheibe, who eventually confessed to making the calls about the hostage crisis.

"I don't know what motivated you. It just seems bizarre," Judge Harris said, believing Scheibe suffers from either psychological or alcohol or drug abuse problems. "I've got real concerns about his whole thought process." (info from Hometown Annnapolis)

Chicago prankster activates California SWAT team

A SWAT team mistakenly busted into a Salinas, California home recently after police received a 911 call. What's baffling to police is that the 911 call was a prank generated from a computer thousands of miles away in Chicago.

Investigators said it's a new cyber-crime that is hitting police departments. People are making the fake 911 calls with the sole goal of getting SWAT team called to homes of unsuspecting people.

It's a prank that many fear could turn deadly.

"We have officers showing up with shotguns, handguns, if our SWAT team is on the street they show up with their sub-machine guns, or their rifles that they carry because of their collateral duties, and it puts innocent people in jeopardy," warned David Shaw of the Salinas police department. (info from LiveLeak)

911 center got false calls from Bin Laden
and boy with penis stuck in bottle

In March of last year, Michigan police deputies charged three subjects for allegedly making 16 prank phone calls to the Tompkins County 911 Center over a three-day period.

It is alleged that on 02-10-07, at approximately 10:08 AM, Corey J. Bruneau, age 17, called 911 and said he was Osama Bin Laden and needed to speak with police. He allegedly called again at 10:15 AM and reported that he had gotten his penis stuck in a shampoo bottle while masturbating and needed the police at a fake address.

It is further alleged, that on 02-10-07, at approximately 11:30 PM, Falicia Singer, age 17, called 911 and reported that someone was breaking into her apartment while she hid under her bed, and then added that the intruder was inside her apartment. The defendant provided an address other than her own. Several deputies responded to the apartment complex under emergency circumstances. A female juvenile was also charged for particapating with Singer.

On 02-11-07, at 1:06 PM, Singer allegedly made another call during which she stated that a local daycare facility was being robbed. This complaint was also unfounded.

Both Bruneau and Singer were charged with two counts each of Falsely Reporting an Incident. The aforementioned juvenile was charged similarly with one count. Both Bruneau and Singer were released on Appearance Tickets ordering them to appear in court. (info from the Lansing Star)

Firefighters used fake prize to nab 911 prank caller
who was exercizing "lazy" firefighters

Knoxville, Tennessee Fire Department investigators used a ruse of their own to nab a man suspected of making a series of bogus emergency calls.

After receiving a false report of a gas leak in December, 2006, firefighters compared notes. They confirmed 15 fake 911 calls over a two-month period, including four house fires, six car crashes, plus medical emergencies, all coming from the same cellphone.

They called the number and left a message saying the phone's owner had won a gift card from a major retailer. Within an hour, Fire Capt. Brent Seymour received a call back from a man identifying himself as the phone's owner. "He willingly gave his name and address," Seymour said. "I told him I would be sending the gift card." But that wasn't quick enough to suit the man. He wanted the gift card in time for Christmas, so investigators set up a meeting for that evening.

Seymour said he waited only a few minutes in a parking lot before suspect Jason Harms arrived, identified himself as the gift card recipient, and was arrested.

Seymour said Harms' first words were, "You can't prove it." But Judge Charles Cerny found the evidence strong enough to send 15 felony counts of making false reports to a grand jury. Harms said he was doing taxpayers a favor by drawing otherwise lazy firefighters out of their cozy fire halls. (info from Associated Press)

8-year-old girl made over 100 prank 911 calls

No charges were filed against an 8-year-old girl who made more than 100 prank calls to emergency operators in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in February, 2007.

Lt. Jim Risseeuw of the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department said the unidentified girl was traced with the help of AT&T and TracFone, which identified the phone's owner as the girl's mother. The woman had stopped using the phone but all cellphones can call 911 even if they don'y have active service.

Risseeuw said the third-grader identified herself to dispatchers as "Matthew" when she made the calls, some of which contained profanities. However, he said because of her age, she won't be charged. "At this point, the matter was corrected," Risseeuw said. "We'll leave it for the parents to deal with." (info from UPI)

911 hoaxer sent SWAT teams to innocent homes

A Washington state teenager was arrested for a "spoofed" call to a California 911 center, one of several he made falsely reporting hostage and shooting situations. The calls sparked a heavy police response and put innocent residents in danger when police surrounded their homes with drawn guns.

Randall Ellis was charged with false imprisonment with violence, computer access crimes, and assault with a weapon by proxy, in connection with the California incident. He also allegedly made similar calls to Pennsylvania, Arizona and to his own home town, saying someone had been killed or that a shooting had occurred. The incidents appear similar to previous false 911 calls made by callers using VoIP service, and "spoofing" their address and telephone number, by sending false information to the distant 911 system.

Police said in one incident a resident heard the noises of the officers surrounding his home and came outside armed with a knife. Fortunately he was safely taken into custody until police determined the 911 call was a hoax. Ellis is believed to have made at least 200 other hoax calls, a game-like practice that has become known as "swatting," named after the response that the calls usually invoke. (info from Dispatch magazine)

Man called 911 to have beer delivered

It brought new meaning to "Protect and Serve."

Last November, in Hebron, Connecticut, Brian Poulin was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after he called 911 several times, asking police to bring him beer.

Police said he called 911 numerous times and told police he was out of beer and asked them to pick up more for him. Poulin was transported to Windham Community Memorial Hospital, but police did not say what he was treated for. He apparently was very thirsty. He was scheduled to appear in Superior Court on a later date. (info from

Man called 911 while being crushed in junk yard

Mark Wassum was scavanging for parts in a Pennsylvania junkyard, and wasn't being careful.

He called 911 and said, "I'm at Pic-A-Part. A car just fell on my face."

The dispatcher sent police to the Pic-A-Part junkyard, but the man couldn't say exactly where he was located. Police and firefighters had to scour a junkyard filled with thousands of cars, while the dispatcher tried to keep him alive.

"Sir, if you have blood in your mouth just try to spit it out and try to position your body. I know it's tough," the dispatcher told the caller.

But the longer the weight of the BMW pressed on the man's head, the more desperate and panicked he became. The dispatcher followed a police officer's quick-witted plan. The officer told her to listen for his police siren. It would indicate when he was getting closer to the man and his cell phone.

"I hear a siren now. A faint siren. Sir, I hear the siren. They are looking for you right now," the dispatcher said.

"Yeah, it's louder," she said as police neared the trapped man. The plan worked.

Two months later, asked if he remembers anything, Wassum said, "A little bit -- only turning a wrench and watching it fall, and after that I don't remember nothing."

And, after suffering only a scratch, he's back to work repairing cars. "I don't go to that junkyard no more, and now I jack up cars the right way," Wassum said. (info from

Life in danger in Ventura? You can pay $50 for 911

Short for money to hire additional police officers and firefighters, Ventura, California will soon charge a monthly fee for emergency calls to help pay for services.

Residents will pay $1.49 a month for emergency service access beginning May 1. If they choose to opt out of the plan, they will be charged $50 for each 911 call. City officials stressed that the action is vital to improving public safety services.

"The problem is we just don't have enough police and firefighters," said City Manager Rick Cole. "Our whole goal is get to a place where we can respond within five minutes to life-threatening emergencies at least 90% of the time."

The fee will be levied on about 158,000 residential and business land lines and cellphones in the city. With exemptions for certain phones, Ventura hopes to raise at least $2.2 million annually to cover much of the cost of operating its 911 dispatch center, and to hire six additional police officers and three firefighters.

Ventura is believed to be the only Southern California city to adopt such a charge. But similar 911 fees are in place in several Northern California communities, including Santa Cruz, San Jose and San Francisco. (info from The Los Angeles Times)

School janitor faked gunshot sounds in 911 calls

A former Indiana school janitor has been sentenced to three years in prison for making false 911 calls about a gunman inside the school.

Shaun Starks made the calls from inside Franklin Community High School in May 2007, reporting that there was a man with a gun inside the school. Police say Starks imitated the sound of a gunshot by smacking a rolled-up piece of paper on a desk.

He was charged with felony intimidation and two counts of misdemeanor false informing. According to Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner, Starks didn't give a reason for making the calls. During his arrest last year, police said he told them he had been bullied by students and this was a way of retaliating. (info from The Indianapolis Star)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Man may lose $25K by reporting murderer to 911

A pawn shop manager who alerted authorities to the location of a man accused of killing a Florida Sheriff's deputy might not be eligible for a $25,000 reward because he dialed 911, instead of calling the Crime Stoppers hot line.

Scott Kelly, the manager of the Uptown Pawn and Jewelry shop in Hollywood, dialed 911 in November, 2007 after a customer told him convicted robber Michael Mazza was sitting in a car parked outside the store.

"When you hear there's a dangerous criminal outside your door, you don't go to Google to see what number you should call. You call 911, and that's what I did," Kelly said. He said Crime Stoppers has told him they have to review his reward claim because he did not call them.

Crime Stoppers posted the $25,000 reward on Mazza's capture after police said the 40-year-old convicted felon fatally shot 76-year-old Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Rein while being escorted to court. Crime Stoppers is a private organization and not affiliated with the police department.

Mazza has been arrested 13 times in Florida since 1990. He was sentenced to life in prison in August for the armed robbery of a drugstore. (info from WPBF TV)

Most 911 callers should not have called 911

In Canada, Ontario Provincial Police officers dealt with an inordinate amount of inappropriate 911 calls in 2007 — ranging from people who hit the wrong speed dial number on their phone to those who thought it would be fun to play a prank on the police.

According to Constable Mark Kinney, of the 850 calls to 911 in Huronia West's service area, 724 (85 per cent) were not legitimate.

"We're getting people wanting to know what roads are like," he said. "A lot of the calls are individuals misdialing because they have a new phone, and put 911 on speed dial."

Kinney said in two instances last year, the caller was charged: in one case, a man was pretending he was stranded in the middle of Georgian Bay; in the other case, a gentleman who had imbibed called 911 "to see if it worked.

When someone calls from a phone booth, there's no indication of a callback number, nor is there a response to the 911 operator, so emergency services — fire, police and paramedics — have no idea what they're responding to. "It's not beyond the grasp of reality that someone, with their last gasp, has been able to hit 911," Kinney said. "That's why we respond to all these types of calls in a high priority. "It's putting the resources at risk, and it's putting the people who are responding at risk."

Huronia West officers respond to approximately 14,000-to-15,000 calls for service a year; Kinney noted those 724 calls represent about five or six per cent of all calls, resources that could be better used elsewhere.

Police ask that parents teach their children the proper use of 911, and that telephones are not toys. People are also being asked to remove the number from speed dial. (info from the Collingwood, Ontario Enterprise Bulletin)

Man called 911 to complain about SWAT team.

A robbery suspect dialed 911 in August, 2007 when a police SWAT team entered his home after a one-hour standoff. Miami police said the man and another man were wanted in two liquor store robberies.

Detectives tracked the two men to a home in Miami. When officers knocked on the home's door Thursday morning, one man surrendered immediately, but the other barricaded himself inside.

Police called in the SWAT team and that's when the suspected robber called 911. "As our SWAT team was going in, he became very upset and called 911 and said a burglar was breaking into his house," said Lt. Bill Schwartz with the Miami Police Department. "That was us."

Schwartz said the man ended up surrendering peacefully. Neither of the men were immeditely identified but police said both would face armed robbery charges, and the man who caused the standoff will also be charged with resisting arrest. (info from

Serial bank robber called 911 to surrender,
while house was surrounded by police

In 2006, Indianapolis police made an arrest following a bank robbery in which the robber left behind his birth certificate, and the crime was captured on surveillance video. Rodney Harper dropped a check cashing card as well as a bill from a phone showing he paid his phone bill," said Marion County sheriff's Capt. Phil Burton. The videotape shows the identification falling out onto the floor when the man pulls out his gun.

Police said Harper got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, but it was recovered, covered in dye, not far from the bank. Harper called 911 on Tuesday as police surrounded his home.

"I'm wanting to turn myself in. The police are outside the house right now. I just wanted to let them know I don't have any weapons. I just want to come out," Harper told a 911 dispatcher.

Burton admitted that the robber's missteps made investigators' job a bit easier. "When they actually rob a bank with their ID, which they leave for us, that's very helpful," Burton said. Harper was already on parole after a 1995 bank robbery. (info from

Viewers called 911
when TV host was held up on air.

Viewers of an Arkansas cable TV show helped Fort Smith police solve a crime in August, 2005 after they watched a robbery on live TV.

A man entered the TV set with a gun. Gary Spirito, host of the Shopping Mania Auction Show, first thought it was a prank. When the intruder demanded Spirito's car keys, Spirito informed his audience that it was not a joke: "There's a guy robbing us, somebody call the police, he came in with a gun. Somebody call police, there's a guy here trying to rob us."

Then Spirito addressed the intruder: "We're doing a live show here and there's probably hundreds of people out there right now calling the police to come down on this building."

Mary Schell watches the Shopping Mania Auction Show every night, and thought Spirito's call for help was a joke. Schell said: "Then I waited a minute after, and then I was like, 'No, he can't be joking. He can't be. Just call."

Spirito said the suspects escaped with nothing, but thanks to the 911 calls made by viewers, Fort Smith police caught two suspects.

Fort Smith police said Eddie Crisp and Timothy Suggs are accused of robbing Keith Cox, owner of the Legacy Motor Co., at 11 p.m. Thursday. About an hour later, police said the suspects robbed Spirito. The men face two counts of aggravated robbery and probation violations. (info from WISN TV)