CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - You should only be calling 911 when you need help with a serious situation or in an emergency, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say some people have been abusing the 911 system as either a game or to scare someone by having officers show up.
Every day, hundreds of 911 calls come through a dispatch center in Charlotte, which means police officers are sent out to check things out.
“Maybe there was a shooting, maybe there was a robbery,” said officer Johnathan Frisk, who works in the crime prevention unit.
Frisk says the city is seeing more violent crime compared to this time last year – so if you call 911 when you really don’t need it, you’re possibly taking an officer away from a serious situation.
“They think it’s a game, but obviously it’s not. It’s a very serious thing,” Frisk said.
Just this week, 24-year-old Quarnetta Steele was arrested for reportedly misusing 911. Police say she called dispatch 32 time this month alone, but she was nowhere to be found when police got there.
“Very frustrating,” said Frisk.
According to police records, Steele has been calling 911 to report all sorts of things from drugs to disturbance. Here recently she called on May 28th and told the operator she was assaulted with a deadly weapon and just like all the other times, police found no evidence of that.
CMPD is a department struggling with staffing, so Officer Frisk says police don’t need to be tied up if they don’t have to be. He also says his department isn’t the only one dealing with this, depending on what a caller says, MEDIC could be sent out on illegitimate calls too.
“And of course if MEDIC’s coming, you know the fire department is coming. That’s a lot of resources all for nothing,” Frisk said.
According to court records, Quarnetta Steele will go before a judge at the end of July. Misusing 911 has a prison sentence of nearly four years.