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Return of Crime Check welcome relief for 911

Calling 911 because you’re directionally challenged and trying to find your home: Wrong.

Calling 911 because someone is burglarizing your neighbor’s house: Right.

Saving someone’s life because the 911 phone lines are being used correctly: Priceless.

When Crime Check – Spokane County’s 24-hour non-emergency number – was eliminated in 2004, calls to 911 increased significantly, officials said. Consequently, callers with emergencies occasionally have to be put on hold.

“A lot of times people call 911 because they don’t know where else to call or it’s after hours at the Spokane Crime Reporting Center, so when Crime Check is brought back it will decrease our call volume,” said Amy McCormick, 911 operations manager.

The 24-hour non-emergency service will return in January 2009.

Meanwhile, here are a few more examples of misguided (but true) phone calls to 911, provided by a police dispatch supervisor.

•Anonymous citizen calls in a loud-party complaint, adding he is angry because he was kicked out of it.

•Caller says he woke up to find his pelvis had fallen apart.

•Caller from People’s Park reports a naked man tied to a tree. The man tells the caller he doesn’t want to be untied; a friend will be coming in the morning to free him.

•Caller reports a female driving through three red lights with a bag over her head.

•Caller says when she left the house her dog was in the bathroom with the toilet seat down. When she returned, the seat was up and the dog was wet.

•Female caller says she was given heart medication at the hospital and needs someone to open the child-proof bottle.

•A “regular” 911 caller says he’s fed up with the same Top Ramen and cheese sandwich for dinner.

•Man says his wife has fallen into a Dumpster and can’t get out.

•Caller reports an 80-year-old topless woman raking leaves outside and is worried that children passing by will be traumatized. (The yard worker turns out to be a man.)

•Caller reports a man sitting in the center divider with a “Will work for sex” sign that describes the size of his genitalia.

In case there’s still confusion about when to call 911, here’s how McCormick explains proper use: “If you have a life-threatening emergency, or a need for immediate police response or you are reporting an in-progress crime then call 911.” Use Crime Check to file a police report on a crime that has already occurred.