U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Misuse and Abuse of 911

NCJ Number
Rana Sampson
Date Published
August 2004
48 pages
This problem-oriented guide discusses the misuse and abuse of 911 calling and offers solutions to combat the problem.
The goal of the Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series is to describe and analyze social problems and offer police officers practical solutions to overcoming these problems. This guide deals with the misuse and abuse of 911 calling. The author divides the problem into two categories: abuse of 911 calling that is intentional and 911 calling abuse that is unintentional. Unintentional 911 abuse includes phantom wireless calls, misdials, and hang-up calls. The author explains that phantom wireless calls are the result of unintentional automatic dialing functions on the phone, redialing mistakes, and random dialing by phones with low batteries. Intentional 911 abuse includes nonemergency calls, prank calls, exaggerated emergency calls, and lonely complainant calls. The author then goes on to suggest ways for police officers to accurately assess their local problem with 911 abuse calling. Tips include a section that details questions to be studied and answered by the police officers as well as a section on how to measure the effectiveness of the solutions. The remainder of the guide outlines potential responses to the problem of misuse and abuse of 911. Possible solutions include requiring wireless phone manufacturers to redesign their product, prohibiting automatic 911 dialing, educating the public about 911, and punishing those who make prank calls to 911. The author also includes a case study of how the San Diego Police Department reduced their number of 911 hang-up calls. Appendix, notes, and references