In the past seven months, there have been six Amber Alerts issued in Ontario, and every time an alert is issued, every second counts.
Despite this, residents still take it upon themselves to call 9-1-1 and flood the emergency lines to complain about the minor disturbance.
The consequence of this is life-threatening because legitimate callers with real emergencies are unable to get through.
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On Thursday, around 3 am, an Amber Alert was issued after a young girl was allegedly abducted by her father in the Brantford area.
Brantford Police said they were “inundated by numerous phone calls” complaining about the alert, with one person calling 9-1-1 to complain 11 times.
As people still continue to call 9-1-1 to complain, an online petition has been started, asking on the province to fine those who call to complain about receiving the alerts.
Started by Dalia Monacelli, the petition has now receiver over 100,830 signatures at the time of publication.
“After the latest Amber Alert, I read the umpteenth reminder from the Toronto police operations to ‘not use the 911 line for anything other than emergencies.’ That was when I said enough is enough,” said Monacelli, in a statement.
“People have to understand that when they dial 911, they are taking time and personnel away from actual emergencies and that these actions could cost lives.”
Monacelli said that her two-year-old son was the inspiration for her starting the petition, which calls for Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey to take action.
“I imagined what it would be like if my two-year-old son went missing and we lost an opportunity to get him back because someone was complaining about the alert. I knew I needed to try to put an end to this selfish and dangerous behaviour.”
Similar to the previously issued alerts, residents are still failing to understand the significance of an Amber Alert and continue to react poorly to it.
According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCFCP), an Amber Alert can only be activated by police agencies and is only issued for the most dangerous child abduction cases, when time is of the essence.
While criteria for issuing an Amber Alert may vary from province to province, basic requirements include:
- The child is under the age of 18;
- There is a belief that the child has been abducted;
- There is a belief that the child is in imminent danger;
- There is information to be released that may help locate the child and/or the abductor (e.g. description of the child, the suspect or the vehicle driven by the abductor)
- An Amber Alert must also be issued “within a reasonable amount of time” from the moment of the abduction.
You can take action and sign the petition here.