Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pranking the Police

It seems that pranking the police has become a favorite pastime in America, one that can result in serious trouble. Misusing 911 and playing hoaxes on police is dangerous and should not be done. The results are very costly and wasted time that could be used to help someone that is actually in need.

Recently, the "Balloon Boy" hoax occurred in Denver, Colorado. Supposedly Mr. Heene's six-year-old son was trapped in a spaceship like balloon. Police and rescuers spent over two hours in pursuit of the balloon. And when it finally landed it was learned that the boy was never in the balloon but in the family's garage attic. Still everyone thought this story was truthful until on an interview the little boy said to his dad "You said we did this for a show." And so it was discovered it was all a hoax. And what might the cost be to this publicity stunt? According to examiner the cost includes a black hawk in the air for three hours at the cost of $4,600 an hour and a smaller Kiowa helicopter in the air for one hour costing $700 an hour. So the total just for the helicopters... $14,500. Not to mention the 2 hours of time taken up that police could be helping someone with an actual emergency.

Prank calls to 911 are also on the rise according to rd a Californian study found that as many as 45% of the emgerceny calls placed from cell phones in the state were frivolous or prank. But it's not just prank calls, it is also calls made for minor, stupid even, reasons. For example, in Florida, a man called 911 because Burger King did not have lemonade. A woman in Flordia called 911 three times to complain that McDonalds had ran out of McNuggets. While this may seem like small instances calls like this do happen quite often and can cause a delay of information of an actual emergency.

But compared to meaningless calls, prank calls are much worse and much more serious. Take for example the Bates' story click here for more information. The Bates were in bed at 10 p.m when they were awakened by police sirens. When Mr. Bates went downstairs to lock the doors, he was ordered by a mass of police, assault rifles drawn, out of the house. Both Mr. and Mrs. Bates were cuffed while the police searched the house. But what the police had thought to be a grisly murder scene turned out to be a prank by a teenage boy 1,200 miles away. Swatting calls, called so because usaually SWAT teams respond to them, place an immense strain on responding departments. The Orange County Sheriff's Department deployed about 30 people to the Bateses' home, including a SWAT team, a helicopter and K-9 units. It cost the department $14,700. Another example would be of a teenage hacker in Massachusets who plead guilty to a five-month swatting spree including a bomb threat and report of an armed gunman that caused two schools to be evacuated.

Some people may say that they are harmless pranks, but are they really harmless? While police are responding to a false case, someone else who is in real need could be suffering the consaquences of that little prank. The money used up by the pranksers could have been used towards saving someones life.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I'm ashamed to admit that pranking 911 was a favorite pastime of myself and several friends when I was a teen. It was an ongoing joke what silly jokes we could spew at 911 operators. We never thought of the consequences or potential harm. You make a strong case against prank calls.