01 April 2006

Prank Caller Arrested

Maybe this story belongs over at Six Meat Buffet's White Trash Wednesday column. Well for once I've beaten Preston to the punch.

Florida officials have arrested an 18 year old man on disorderly conduct charges after he confessed to calling women and claiming he was shot and lost in some wooded areas. Police and Fire dispatched units and a helicopter to look for the victim.

"Hey Pugsly! Put down the phone and pick up a carrot!"

In Chicago, many bogus calls to 911 go unpunished. During a six-month period back in 2005 - 3,896 prank calls to Chicago's 911 emergency center were placed from a pair of phone numbers at a single West Side address. To the best of my knowledge, nothing happened to that home. Maybe they were fined - but I doubt anyone went to jail. On the West Side, it is common to get an anonymous "shots fired" call and, when responding units arrive, it turns out to be bogus. Do these anonymous callers, who frequently call 911 from their cell phones, get arrested? No.

In Los Angeles, 85% of the 3.6 million calls to 911 were not emergencies. Part of the problem is that people have a problem and automatically call the emergency number. Some are not educated as to what constitutes an emergency.

An 18-year-old in Volusia County, Fla., faces charges Friday for making several prank phone calls to random women claiming he was bleeding from a gunshot wound and wandering in some woods, according to a police report.
Volusia County sheriff's deputies and a helicopter crew searched for nearly 90 minutes early Friday after women contacted dispatchers about the disturbing calls.
The caller told the women during the calls that he was shot and bleeding in a wooded area off Fatio Road and Beresford Avenue near DeLand, Fla.
During one of the calls, the man gave a name.
Deputies tracked down the provided name, but the person wound up being just another victim in the prank, the police report said.
The women had a number for the mystery caller and the sheriff's office used it to contact the man over the phone.
Deputies then met with William Wager, 18, and he confessed to making the calls to the women, the report said.
A complaint affidavit charging Wager with disorderly conduct will be forwarded to the state attorney's office.
A motive for the calls was not reported.

One day last summer I was on Zone12 when I heard the following come over the air (I swear to God this got put out to a
beat car) :

Dispatcher: "2515"

2515: "2515"

Dispatcher: "2515 - there is a disturbance on your beat. See the complaint Mr. Ramirez at 25XX N. Mango. Mr. Ramirez would like to see the police because his neighbor's garden hose is on his lawn."

2515: "10-4"

Part of the issue is that 911 call takers don't filter much garbage - they just put out whatever they get in. That attitude comes from the threat of lawsuits. God forbid that Mr. Ramirez, in the above example, was told to grow up and deal with the problem like an adult. God forbid he was told to go over there, inform his neighbor that the presence of his neighbor's garden hose was not appreciated and that if the hose made an appearance on Mr. Ramirez's lawn at any time in the future, the aforementioned garden hose would end up in the nearest City of Chicago garbage can.

Phony calls to 911 hurt the system in innumerable ways - they tie up the lines of communication, divert resources from real emergencies, and expose first responders to needless injuries.

Maybe if more people were arrested and fined for pranks like this, the system would work more efficiently.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This problem started as soon as they removed the Police Officers from behind the counsole and placed high priced civilian telephone operators on the zones.Any copper who remembers the old communications center at 11th & State knows what I'm talking about.The P.O's Knew how to seperate the bull$*#! calls and prioritize the important ones.Also, a P.O. dispatcher would NEVER send a 99 unit on a hot call.Most of the civilians don't give a damn about your safety,all they want to do is clear their board.A P.O. on the street has to utilize his/her common sense while answering these jobs.Lord knows there's very little of it in communications.