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

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