TORONTO (CITYNEWS) – Some of the 9-1-1 calls made to dispatchers declared a “misuse of the system” during the Amber Alert issued for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar have been released by Peel Regional Police in Ontario.
Riya Rujkamar’s body was found in her father’s Brampton, Ontario home in mid-February, less than an hour after an Amber Alert had been issued when she failed to return from a birthday celebration with her father.
Roopesh Rajkumar was later charged with first-degree murder, but died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered before he was arrested in Orillia.
Despite officers saying the Amber Alert led directly to the arrest of Roopesh, local police said they received several calls about being woken up by the alert while others were angry that they had received the alert on their phone.
Both the York Regional Police and Toronto Police also reported people calling 9-1-1 to complain.
In a report to the Peel Police Services Board on March 22 titled the “Misuse of the 9-1-1 System,” details of those calls were released to the public for the first time.
The report said 208 calls were placed to 9-1-1 in Peel between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. EST on Feb. 14 and 15 and more than 89 calls — or 43 per cent — were considered to be a “misuse of the 9-1-1 system.”
One resident reportedly told a call taker that the alert was “an invasion of my privacy,” while another said, “We are trying to watch the Leafs game.”
“How can I make a complaint about you guys abusing the national emergency system?” and “She’s with her father, I don’t think this is a National Emergency,” were also examples of calls they received.
One 9-1-1 caller complained the Amber Alert was “destroying our [TV] program,” and suggested police “can’t take away TV completely, it has to be secondary.”
The report says police continued to receive calls complaining about the alert the next day. Some people even called to thank police for their service, but officers add this was still a misuse of the 9-1-1 system.
Peel Regional Police have proposed continued work to increase public awareness of the proper use of 9-1-1 services, including social media campaigns and attending public events.
The report also mentioned preliminary research is being conducted on developing a three-digit number that would be used for immediate non-emergency calls.
Despite much public outcry over people calling 9-1-1 to complain about a more recent Amber Alert in Toronto, police reported on Tuesday that several people had called to complain about receiving a delayed alert about a 5-year-old who had allegedly been abducted. She was found safe and no charges were laid.