Prank, Accidental 911 Calls Cost Time, Money, Resources

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BELL COUNTY (June 18, 2010)—More than 2,000 of the 911 calls the Bell County Communications Center has received so far this month were hang-ups, misdials or pranks, and each one of them cost taxpayers as much as $200, according to Amy Retz, the center’s assistant day shift supervisor.

"We get accidental 911 calls every single day,” she said, man of them placed by children playing with inactivated cell phones.

"What they don't understand it that those phones can actually dial 911,” Retz said.

On Friday, one child called 911 on a cell phone seven or eight times.

Because law enforcement officers generally respond to all 911 calls the pranks and misdials also take away resources.

"Thirty seconds could kill someone, so we're talking about someone that may or may not survive because these children are calling 911,” Retz said.

She says parents should keep track of the calls their children are making.

"If you do find that there are repeated calls to 911, you may want to take your child to the side and say 'hey this is not something you should be doing,’” she said.

Retz said the consequences for prank 911 calls by children, or anyone else, range from a slap on the wrist and a strong verbal warning to charges and even jail time.

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