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Pranksters, cell phones trouble police phone line

Date Posted: 2004-01-15

Telephone operators answered a record number of emergency calls in 2003, but they shouldn’t have. Okinawa Prefectural Police say the universal police emergency number 110 received 185,440 calls last year, but 76,090 of those calls were not emergencies.

To educate the public about the emergency number, police organized a 110-Day event at Palette Kumoji on Saturday, where they handed out pamphlets and gave lectures about the subject. “People should call 110 only when there is a real emergency or an accident has happened,” a police spokesman said.

The increasing popularity of cell phones is causing police another problem. The spokesman says that when the police receive a 110-call from a fixed line phone, they have the means to locate the phone’s address immediately. “That is not possible when the call is made from a cellular phone, and sometimes we have to search for the location. Unfortunately that means often that it takes longer for a police patrol to arrive at the scene,” the spokesman explains. He also says that people often cannot explain the location accurately.

Police statistics show that the majority of calls to police come from cell phones. “61.3 percent of calls we receive are placed from cell phones, and the proportion continues to increase,” the spokesman said.

Many people also call 110 to get advice on many different matters. “110 is not a number to call for advice or counseling. The number for that is #9110,” the spokesman said. He also lamented the fact that many people call 110 as a joke. “41 percent of all calls to 110 last year were placed for some other reason than an emergency, including jokes and other mischief. That’s way too much,” the spokesman said.

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