A number of complaints and 911 calls were made to the York Provincial Police after an early-morning Amber Alert was issued for two missing boys and their grandfather.
According to a new report from CBC, the Ontario Provincial Police “will not apologize for using all of the tools available to help locate a child” as the force again reports that people are calling 911 to complain about being awakened by a provincewide alert that two youngsters had been abducted.
York Regional Police emergency dispatchers were reportedly forced to deal with several complaint calls overnight from residents who were upset that the alert woke them. Journalist Jeremy Cohn claims that “some of the calls have been abusive and very rude.”
Many of those who complained were upset the alarm had disrupted their sleep, while others were bothered by the fact that the children were last seen at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket at 3 pm, but that the alert didn’t go off until 3 am, 12 hours later.
Officials are pushing for steep punishments for misusing 911, in cases like this, and the province said it’s “considering all options to ensure people are not wasting critical emergency resources.”
“When a child is missing, we all have a role to play as members of our community,” solicitor general Sylvia Jones wrote in a statement to CBC. “Many children have been located as a direct result of Amber Alerts — but it only works if everyone receives these alerts. The bottom line is simple: a missing child is an emergency,”
“Complaining about receiving an Amber Alert is more than just insensitive — it’s dangerous,” Jones continued. “People who use 911 as a complaints hotline are taking up critical emergency resources.”
The CRTC mandated wireless networks to distribute emergency alert messages as of April 2018.
The only way to avoid them is to turn off your phone, the OPP said, but it warns that “you will be unable to receive any emergency alert that may contain information of imminent danger in your area.”