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Sugar in coffee, potty training and sleeping arrangements: When not to call 911


It is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and the Ottawa Police Service is recognizing the work of its agents who take thousands of 911 calls every year.

The vast majority of calls are for genuine emergencies, but there are occasionally callers who call 911 when they really shouldn’t.

"We want to emphasize to the public that we will always be there for you if you are in crisis and need help from police, when in doubt always give us a call," said Communications Inspector Russell Lucas in a news release. "But we also ask residents to use common sense when making a call to 911."

Police asked 911 agents to share some of the odd stories of callers who definitely did not have an emergency on their hands.

One person called 911 to ask police to intervene because her spouse wouldn't keep the agreed schedule of who gets to sleep alone in the master bedroom.

Another person called because their barista had put sugar in their coffee. The caller claimed the barista should be arrested for such a "malicious" action.

A five-year-old called 911 to complain that her three-year-old sister wasn't learning how to potty train correctly. When the 911 agent asked her to give to the phone to her mom or dad, she said she wasn't allowed to go outside because her dad was mowing the lawn.

Deliberate misuse of the 911 system can result in mischief charges, but police will typically opt to educate callers, reminding them that the line is only for emergencies.

Ottawa police said they shared some stories Tuesday to thank 911 agents for their work every day of the year.

"Our agents work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and are always there when you need us," said Lucas. "We can help them do their jobs by only using 911 when it’s warranted." 

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is marked during the second week of April. It initially started in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office in California, according to the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International. Top Stories

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