By Cole Parkinson
In an ever-continuing problem for the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment, 9-1-1 hang-ups are still plaguing officers.
With an RCMP delegation in council chambers for the M.D.’s regular meeting on Nov. 5, the issue was once again brought up as both council and the detachment search for answers on how to slow the problem down.
In October’s RCMP report presented to council, 37 9-1-1 hang-ups were listed for the detachment.
“It seems that 9-1-1 hang up number just keeps getting bigger,” stated Reeve Merrill Harris.
Over the last few months, 9-1-1 hang-ups have seen consistently high numbers as they were listed at 33 in September, 30 in August 49 in July and 51 in June.
“It is a huge draw on our resources. One number in particular, it is a 403-9-1-1 number so it is not associated to any phone. I spent an hour-and-a-half on the phone with Rogers (Wireless) yesterday and I was able to determine that it is an international phone. Any time an international phone with more than 10 digits calls 9-1-1, it gets converted to the same phone number and bounces off the same tower up by Hays. Every time someone with an international phone calls 9-1-1, we get the call in our area and it comes back to the same number so we can’t track who it is. It is very taxing,” explained Cpl. Brian Weisbrod.
Through plenty of trial and error, the detachment seems to have worked out a way to try and track the number calling 9-1-1.
“I have found a way, and it’s not proven, but if we can get that call and we call Rogers at that same time, they can run a report and give us the international phone number. We can phone that person and try to find out where they are and hopefully put an end to these phone calls. That one particular number has given us over 250 calls in the last three months or so. It is a lot,” said Weisbrod. “Our policy, and rightfully so, says any time there is a 9-1-1 phone call we have to go because we can’t assume it isn’t an emergency. That is the sole purpose of having this system.”
Councillors inquired whether or not there was anything the M.D. could do to help.
“We are trying, and I don’t know if we have done this locally, but there have been media releases saying ‘watch your phone and take out your battery’ and that kind of stuff. I don’t know if that accomplishes anything,” responded Weisbrod, who also stated he was confident they were heading in the right direction in curbing some of the 9-1-1 hang-ups they have been receiving. “That phone call yesterday, after many prior ones, was the most successful one I have had in the last couple weeks. Hopefully, we have an avenue to explore a little bit and we can find at least one of these international phones.”
It was pointed out the international calls the RCMP have been getting are likely the result of someone unaware they placing the call.
“They may not even know they are doing it,” added Coun. Brian Brewin.
“I am fairly confident that is the case because in none of the phone calls do you hear background noise. You don’t hear anything at all. I really think these phone calls are from someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or somebody who has some sort of glitch with their phone,” replied Weisbrod. “We’re running around in circles but the circle is narrowing and hopefully we can track it down.”
Weisbrod went into further detail on how they’ve tried combating the 9-1-1 hang up issue they have been facing.
“A lot of these will come back just with a tower location and there is nothing we can do because if it bounces off a tower, it can come from absolutely anywhere. But if it comes to a location, we have to go to that location. We went to one a few times and that family was more than cooperative. They gave me their cellphones that didn’t work and I held onto them for two weeks and we got four more calls. After my call yesterday, I found out it had nothing to do with this cooperative family,” he explained. “I think we are getting close but it’s just going to take more of these (calls) and some time.”