By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Police are warning of the consequences of making false 911 calls or false reports after a 12-year-old Weatherford boy called the Enid and Garfield County 911 Center Friday more than 20 times in a four-hour period.
Enid Police Department 911 Administrator Lt. Eric Holtzclaw said the boy made 24 calls to the center between 3:16 and 6:53 p.m. Friday on a cell phone. Two of the calls reported a serious injury and the others were hang-ups or the boy using profanity.
“We had two actual calls where he made reports of a person bleeding in front of Lowe’s and an accident with injuries in front of Wal-Mart,” Holtzclaw said.
The boy, who later was identified by Fairview Police Department, made more than 40 calls to 911 in Major County. In one of those calls, the boy reported seeing a man with a gun. In another, the boy gave dispatchers his grandparent’s last name, and a Fairview police officer was able to locate the boy and the cell phone used to make the calls.
In response to the injury accident, three Enid Police Department units, two Enid Fire Department engines and a Life EMS ambulance were dispatched to the 5500 block of West Garriott, with lights and sirens activated.
Holtzclaw said emergency responders were on scene for about 15 minutes, attempting to locate the supposed accident.
Under Oklahoma law, making a “false alarm or complaint or reporting knowingly false information” that could result in dispatching emergency responders is a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and an assessment for the resulting costs of dispatching emergency personnel.
“We are going to do everything we can to prosecute,” Holtzclaw said. “This is a very serious offense, which puts the lives of the responders and the public at risk.”
According to Holtzclaw the cost of responding to the alleged accident Friday was more than $1,600. Life EMS estimates the cost of a single response at $375. Enid Fire Department estimates costs at $250 per responding truck, and the estimated cost for an Enid Police Department unit is $250.
“This should be a reminder for parents and grandparents to be more aware of what children are doing and being more cognizant of what they’re saying,” Holtzclaw said. “We want the public to know you’re going to get the help you need, but we want people to call for genuine purposes.”
In the second call, the boy tells a dispatcher “I’m dying” and also says he’s “bleeding to death.” By that time, the 911 center saw the number was the same as the false report of the injury accident and sent only police to respond.
Holtzclaw said the boy’s grandparents and mother were cooperating with police in the investigation. He said the boy was given the cell phone by his grandmother while he was visiting in Fairview. The boy had admitted to making the calls.
“The grandparents were not aware he was making the calls,” Holtzclaw said.
Holtzclaw said the case has been forwarded to the Office of Juvenile Affairs, which would handle any prosecution of the boy. Due to the boy’s age, his name and records pertaining to the case are not available to the public. Holtzclaw said the name used on the 911 tapes by the boy is not the boy's name.
Questionable 911 calls were not limited to juveniles last week.
A 49-year-old woman had called police at 6:08 p.m. Saturday on a call of an unwanted guest. An officer responded and found no problem when he arrived at the woman’s residence in the 600 block of North 9th. Holtzclaw said the woman was warned about false reporting of a crime. However, the woman later called 911 asking for the same officer to be sent to her home again.
“The woman had more than a professional interest in the officer,” Holtzclaw said.
According to a report, the woman told 911 dispatchers “she needed a man.”
That case has been forwarded to the city attorney’s office and charges are pending.
“911 is to be used for emergency situations only,” Holtzclaw said. “You’re taking away the possibility of a person in a dire situation getting the help they need.”