Police taking aim at pocket dials and unintentional 9-1-1 calls

911 cell

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has received more than 142,130 9-1-1 calls from January 1st to June 30th, 2017 and 299,100 in 2016. In 2016 the OPP was able to confirm over 2000 pocket dials however over 30,000 remained as unknown wireless calls.

Ontario’s unintentional calls have decreased over the last few years, but more work needs to be done. OPP is launching the #KnowWhenToCall campaign this fall to further educate the public on unintentional calls including pocket dials to 9-1-1. They continue to urge the public not to call 9-1-1unless it’s an emergency, and not to let children play with mobile phones or tablets.

Beginning Thursday, September 14th, the OPP will use its social media platforms to launch a public education campaign to remind the public to be careful about unintentional or ‘pocket dial’ calls to Provincial Communications Centres and what to do if they accidentally call 9-1-1. Included in the campaign are posters, poster cards and short videos also available for use by schools and community partners to help get the message out. The campaign will run over a three week period with the first release aimed at youth returning to school, followed by two more releases in the following weeks. The campaign products will be available to the media and public on the OPP internet www.OPP.ca under the 9-1-1 page.

“Everyone needs to remember that 9-1-1 is to be used only when the safety of people or property is at risk and require immediate assistance such as a fire, a crime in progress, or a medical emergency. Avoiding pocket dials helps ensure our officers are able to respond to real emergencies. We encourage everyone to be part of the solution to prevent accidental 9-1-1 calls.” – Superintendent Kari DART, Director – Provincial Communications Operations – OPP Communications and Technology Services Bureau

Pocket dials happen when a mobile device carried in a pocket, purse, backpack or other piece of clothing accidentally activates the keypad, causing the emergency call. Many calls still occur when young children are given cell phones and smart phones to play with as toys. Even old, inactive devices with the SIM card removed can be used to dial 9-1-1.

For every unintentional call or pocket dial received, an emergency communicator must determine whether a real emergency exists and if police, fire or paramedics should be dispatched. With every unintentional call received, precious seconds may be taken away from someone who really needs help.

“For every 9-1-1 call the OPP receives, regardless of whether it is a real emergency or an accidental pocket dial, there is a cost to the municipality. Our residents are encouraged to work with us and the OPP to help reduce the non-emergency calls to 9-1-1, which frees up officers to respond to actual emergencies and saves taxpayers’ money. The North Grenville Police Services Board supports this collaborative, province-wide campaign because we know it works.” – Don Sherritt, Chair North Grenville Police Services Board

If you place an unintentional 9-1-1 call, stay on the line to let the emergency operator know it was a pocket dial/unintentional call. Every 9-1-1 call is taken seriously. When a 9-1-1 caller doesn’t respond, that could be a sign of trouble – a possibility an emergency responder can’t ignore.

You can prevent pocket dials or unintentional 9-1-1 calls by:

  • Using the keypad lock feature. Keypad locks, some of which can be programmed to activate automatically, prevent a mobile device from responding to keystrokes until the user unlocks the keypad using a short combination of key presses or password.
  • Turning off the 9-1-1 auto-dial feature. Check the user manual or the manufacturer’s website, or call the service provider to determine whether your device has this feature and how to turn it off.
  • Refraining from programming a wireless device to automatically or “speed dial” 9-1-1.


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