Charging cell users for 911 service?
Oct 3, 2012 / 5:00 pm
Certainly not a 'ringing' endorsement for Canadian cellphone maker Blackberry.
Kelowna's top cop says the Blackberry is chiefly responsible for an increase in RCMP calls for service in the Central Okanagan.
Superintendent Bill McKinnon says the biggest reason for the 11.2 per cent increase in calls for service over the past four months is dropped 911 calls.
"I've spoken about it before - just for this four month period we had 1,192 dropped 911 calls. That's a result of pocket dials," McKinnon told City Council while delivering his four month report.
"It would be nice to say it's probably just a pocket dial, we're not going to respond, but I know darnn well if one case went sideways where we didn't respond and it was an absolute emergency we'd be criticized. We don't have a choice, we have to respond."
McKinnon says RCMP attempt to contact those people right away to determine if it is or isn't an emergency, but don't always reach the individuals.
"The dreaded Blackberry is the biggest offender because you can pocket dial on a Blackberry where on an iPhone you have to actually punch in 911 - you can't pocket dial it unless you already have it stored in," adds McKinnon.
"It's the Blackberry's that are causing the biggest problem in terms of the 911 calls."
He says the local detachment is looking at other jurisdictions to see how they are handling the problem.
It could be worse - McKinnon says police in New York City receive 30,000 pocket dials a month.
Councillor Robert Hobson says pocket dialling from cellphones is a double edged sword since the CRTC does not allow municipalities to charge cell phone users for 911 service.
"We charge land lines but we can't charge cellphones. It's so ironic," says Hobson.
McKinnon says the simple solution would be for the CRTC to put in obligations that 911 had to actually be dialed.
Mayor Walter Gray suggested contacting MP Ron Cannan about the issue and also preparing a resolution for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) asking for changes.
"There's no reason why a cellphone shouldn't pay the same small cost that land lines do," says Gray.
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