Sheriff warns against 911 accidental and hang-up calls

May 24, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray is sounding the alarm about a growing number of accidental calls to 911 and hang-up calls. Between the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Smithville Police Department, and Alexandria Police Department, central dispatch has logged 713 such calls since January 1, 2023.

Part of the problem, according to Sheriff Ray is due to people having smartphones and smartwatches with settings that automatically call 911 if a fall is detected.

“Since January 1, 2023 DeKalb Central Dispatch has seen a significant increase in false or abandoned 911 calls, where someone accidentally calls 911 but hangs up before anyone answers. In response to this, we are asking people who accidentally call 911 to stay on the line and to be aware of any settings on their devices that might trigger an automatic 911 call,” said Sheriff Ray.

“Every 911 call that comes into Central Dispatch is answered, but if no one is on the line, the dispatcher will call back until someone picks up which can take several minutes and take time away from responses to real emergencies,” he said. If you accidentally call 911, we ask you to stay on the line and let the dispatcher know the call was an accident. Also, a deputy is required to respond to the location of the call to make sure there is no emergency,” he added.

Sheriff Ray is also asking people to be aware of any settings on their smartphones or smartwatches that could trigger an automatic 911 call. Smart Phones and Apple Watches have factory settings where you can push a button multiple times to automatically call 911. “We have answered 911 calls where the caller had a Smartphone in their pocket while working outside and the buttons were accidently hit numerous times and called 911,” said Sheriff Ray.

There is also a “crash detection” program on SmartPhones. When the phone sustains a jar or jolt, some phones will start a countdown and then call 911. “This sometimes happens when a person drops their phone or is riding a motorcycle or lawn mower and the phone is jarred or jolted. The phone triggers the 911 call.”

“Also, we see where people try to shut down their Smartphone and accidently swipe the SOS Emergency Call button instead of powering it off,” Sheriff Ray continued.

“We are asking the public, if they use any of these emergency features on their phone, to please be aware of what can happen. 911 accidentally dialed calls take up valuable time to answer for our dispatchers and officers and there is also an expense for responding to them,” he said

The numbers of accidental 911 calls by Department since January 1, 2023 are as follows:

DeKalb Sheriff’s Department
911 Disconnected Phone Calls- 33
911 Duplicate Calls- 5
911 Hang ups- 240
911 Transfer Calls- 5
911 Wrong County Calls- 11
911 Wrong Number Calls- 138
Total Calls 432

Smithville City Police Department
911 Disconnected Phone Calls- 24
911 Hang ups- 147
911 Transfer Calls- 6
911 Wrong County Calls- 2
911 Wrong Number Calls- 83
Total Calls 262

Alexandria Police department
911 Disconnected Phone Calls- 4
911 Hang ups- 9
911 Wrong Number Calls- 6
Total Calls 19

Combined total of 713 accidental 911 calls

County Commission Reappoints Equalization Board

May 23, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

Members to the DeKalb County Equalization Board were reappointed by the County Commission Monday night.

The commission reappointed Mitchell Bowman, Jimmy Midgett, Doyle Evans, Joel Hooker, and Jimmy Goad, to serve on the five-member board and Tim Bradford will be an alternate.

County equalization boards across the state are to meet each year on June 1 (or the next business day if the 1st falls on Saturday or Sunday). The county board is authorized by law to receive and hear appeals of current year property tax assessments as fixed by the county assessor of property. Generally, an assessment must be appealed to the county board of equalization to preserve the taxpayer’s right to further appeal.

The DeKalb County Board of Equalization will begin meeting on Thursday, June 1st, 2023, and will conclude on Wednesday, June 7th, 2023, for those seeking to appeal the value of their property.

To schedule an appointment with the CBOE or to have an informal appeal with Assessor of Property Shannon Cantrell, you should call the Property Assessor’s office starting today, from 8:00AM to 4:30PM Monday through Friday at (615) 597-5925.

In other business, the county commission Monday night approved several county general and board of education budget amendments and surplused property (old election voting machines) being replaced by new machines.

Smithville Police Department Releases Latest Crime Arrests Report

May 23, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has released its latest crime arrests report.

24-year-old Courtney Brooke Shrum of Altamont was arrested on April 14 for shoplifting and criminal trespass. Shrum was spotted and detained at Wal-Mart for concealing items for which she had not purchased. Shrum was ordered to keep away from the store on February 21, 2023. Her bond was $7,500.

47-year-old Amanda Kay Roberts of Alexandria was arrested on April 18 for DUI. Police were dispatched to Wal-Mart for a possible DUI. The officer confronted the suspect, Roberts who was in the driver’s seat of her vehicle. Roberts’ speech was slow and her eyes heavy causing the officer to believe she was under the influence of a controlled substance. Roberts submitted to field sobriety tasks but performed poorly. Roberts consented to a blood draw. Bond for her is $1,500.

Roberts was arrested again on May 4 after police were called to City Walk Apartments where an unconscious woman was spotted behind the wheel of a vehicle that had hit the apartment building. Upon arrival, the officer found the woman, Roberts behind the wheel of the vehicle. She was unconscious and the vehicle’s engine was running. The officer woke Roberts and asked her to step out of the vehicle. She submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Roberts also submitted to a blood alcohol test. She was taken into custody for DUI. Her bond for this offense is $3,500

56-year-old Johnifer Norman Ferrell of Dowelltown was arrested on April 18 for possession of methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; simple possession; unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia; and public intoxication. Police received a call concerning a man acting strangely in a vehicle. The caller said the man was fidgety and getting in and out of the vehicle as if he were under the influence of something. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the man, Ferrell and smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. Ferrell tried to reach around in the car while the officer was speaking with him and when asked to step out of the car, Ferrell refused and started to roll up the windows. The officer reached in and unlocked the door and again asked Ferrell to step out of the car, at which time Ferrell locked all the doors and windows and got out of the vehicle. The officer asked Ferrell to produce his ID but he said it was in the car and he wasn’t opening the doors. Ferrell was placed in cuffs and put in the patrol car and was informed that his vehicle would be searched due to the smell of marijuana. The search turned up 2.2 grams of marijuana, 0.7 grams of methamphetamine, four needles, a glass pipe, and a Taurus 45 handgun. Bond for Ferrell is $56,000.

49-year-old John Allen Judkins Jr of Anthony Avenue was arrested on April 26 for DUI. Police responded to a call of two people in a truck yelling. The vehicle was in the middle of the road. Upon arrival, the officer found both individuals passed out in a Ford Ranger in the middle of the intersection. The driver, Judkins was passed out with his foot on the gas pedal and brake with the truck in gear. The officer put the truck in park and woke both parties, at which time, Judkins tensed up and put the gas pedal to the floor revving the motor to a high rpm. Judkins’ speech was slurred and he was sweating in 55 degree temperature. When asked to exit the vehicle, Judkins complied but he was unsteady on his feet. He told the officer that he couldn’t perform field sobriety tasks but he did consent to a blood draw. His bond is $2,500.

22-year-old Jonquil Raynard Robinson of Lebanon was arrested on April 29 for domestic assault. Police were summoned to a residence on Gentry Avenue due to a domestic assault. Upon investigation, an officer discovered that Robinson and the victim had gotten into an argument over his phone and he hit her on the left side of the face with the phone, near her eye, causing a laceration that drew blood. The victim also had scratch marks across the right side of her neck. Bond for Robinson was $3,500.

40-year-old Jessica French Hale of Jennings Lane was cited on April 30 for criminal trespassing. Hale was on the property of Mapco Express where she was ordered to keep away from on March 8.

19-year-old Harley Lynn Wheeler of Lincoln Street was arrested on May 2 for driving on a revoked license and he was cited for financial responsibility (no insurance). Police spotted Wheeler driving a black Corvette pulling out of the Wal-Mart parking lot. Knowing that Wheeler’s license were revoked, police took Wheeler into custody. Police said Wheeler has been cited for the same offense previously but keeps driving. Bond for Wheeler is $2,500.

32-year-old Christopher Scott Odom of South College Street was arrested on May 5 for DUI. Police were dispatched to the DeKalb County Complex where a man had passed out in a vehicle with the engine running. Upon arrival, the officer found the man, Odom asleep in the driver’s seat of a white SUV. The SUV was idling and there were many empty alcoholic beverage containers inside. After being awakened, Odom submitted to field sobriety tasks but performed poorly. He also smelled of an alcoholic beverage, was unsteady on his feet, and his speech was slurred. Odom was determined to have been in physical control of the vehicle in a public parking lot. Bond for Odom is $2,500 and his court date is May 25.

56-year-old Marty Brent Tallent of West Broad Street was arrested on May 8 for public intoxication and resisting stop, frisk, halt, and arrest. Police were called to a fight in progress involving Tallent. When he saw police cars arriving, Tallent took off running and refused officers commands to stop. He was subsequently apprehended. Police also discovered that Tallent had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and breath and that several empty Corona beer bottles were found in the area where he had been sitting by the side of the road drinking in public. Tallent was taken into custody for his safety and that of the public. Bond for Tallent is $6,500 and his court date is May 25.

28-year-old Dustin Allen Sullivan of Parsley Road was arrested on May 9 for aggravated assault, vandalism, public intoxication, and resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search. Police responded to the area of Cooper Street due to an unwanted guest. Upon arrival, an officer confronted the suspect, Sullivan who was acting erratically, belligerently, and carrying a big stick. He appeared to be under the influence of narcotics. Sullivan was placed under arrest for his safety and that of the public, but while police were walking him to the patrol car for transport, Sullivan tried to pull away and grabbed the officer’s duty weapon. Police deployed a taser and forcibly put Sullivan in the patrol car. While in the back of the patrol car, Sullivan kicked the driver’s side back window until it shattered causing damage to the patrol car. Bond for Sullivan is $28,500.

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