The Fairfield Connecticut Police Department feels people seems to have a wrong notion of what constitutes an emergency.
Over the weekend, the Fairfield Police Department has been receiving many 911 calls with callers complaining because of a cable TV outage in the area.
The annoyed police departmetn posted on its Facebook page that the use of 911 is not meant for non-emergency calls such as a cable TV outage. The Facebook post further warns that 911 calls should only be used for life-threatening emergencies and misuse of the 911 system may result in an arrest.
Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara shared one transcript of such a call to NBC Connecticut:
“Hi, I am just trying to figure out what’s going on. We have no TV,” one caller told the 911 dispatcher.
“Ma’am, 911 is for life-threatening emergencies,” the dispatcher reminded the woman.
The woman said she knew that and was just trying to find out what’s going on.
“I suggest you call Cablevision, or whoever your cable provider is,” the dispatcher said.
Swamping 911 dispatchers with these unimportant calls congests the lines, making it hard for those in need of real help to seek assistance. “When you are in trouble that (911) is the line you want clear,” said Fairfield Police Lieutenant James Perez.
Cablevision Optimum, the cable provider in question, said they are experiencing rampant cable, phone, and Internet outages. These outages have affected Fairfield and New Haven counties over the weekend.
According to the cable service provider, service was restored in about four hours. However, they did not mention specifically the cause of the outage.
“We wanted to get the message out that there early that the 911 line is not the proper number for people to call,” MacNamara said. Residents should not be calling the police at all because they have no cable service.
It is inferred Cablevision customers may have contacted police out of frustration after failing to get through to the cable service due to the overwhelming number of calls queued.
“We understand people were frustrated,” MacNamara said, but reemphasized that phone lines at the Fairfield Police Department should be used for police matters only, not cable problems.