Police ask for help to stem 911 hangups

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Frank Schultz
September 24, 2015

JANESVILLE—Cellphones have brought us space-age convenience but also pocket dials and other “oops!” moments that cause headaches for police.

Janesville police are asking the public's help in reducing inadvertent 911 calls.

Janesville police try to respond to every 911 call, even those hang-up calls that usually turn out benign, or those open-line calls when people don't even realize they have dialed.

One of those calls could be from someone in distress.

But from Aug. 10 to Sept. 11, the Janesville officers responded to about 600 abandoned 911 calls, police said in a news release.

“Either the call is disconnected or no voice contact is made with the caller. Some of these calls turn out to be actual emergencies, but most do not,” according to the release.

The Rock County Communications Center, which handles most emergency calls in the county, received 63,691 calls last year. Of those, 10,188—16 percent—were abandoned or open-line calls.

The number of no-talk calls will likely be much higher this year, with 9,962 received so far, said Kathy Sukus, county 911 communications director.

Of course, fewer of these inadvertent calls means more time for officers to respond to emergencies and can reduce the time it takes them to respond to other calls for service.

The police department recommends:

—Don't allow children to play with home or cellular phones.

—If you let your children play with old phones, remove the batteries. All cellphones, even those without service, are capable of calling 911.

—Lock your phone or cover the screen while it's in your pocket or purse. Some cellphones will automatically dial 911 if any number is pressed for a period of time.

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