Toronto police warn 911 texting may swamp emergency service with bogus reports

Click to play video: 'Police say there are challenges city councillor pushes for 911 texting' Police say there are challenges city councillor pushes for 911 texting
WATCH: Despite a Toronto city councillor's push to have 911 texting services in place, police say there are many challenges. Cindy Pom reports – Jul 12, 2016

Toronto police are warning that allowing residents to text 911 may overload the emergency service.

Council is to vote Wednesday on Coun. Norm Kelly’s motion asking the police service board to review the feasibility of 911 texting.

The motion cites the Orlando nightclub massacre, which has spurred other cities to consider 911 texting, and Kelly says there may be times when text is the only safe way to reach emergency operators.

But police spokesman Mark Pugash cautions it may make things more difficult for 911 operators already dealing with bogus calls.

“No one is helped if the 911 system is swamped,” Pugash told Global News.

“We already have an issue with people phoning 911 who shouldn’t.”

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Pugash added that texting may take longer than calling, while being able to hear the emotion in a caller’s voice helps operators.

READ MORE: Toronto may join growing number of US cities with 911 texting

Mayor John Tory is backing the motion, which if approved and put in place would make Toronto the only city in Canada to offer the service.

“That’s the world you’re in. You’ve got to keep making changes to accommodate to the technology and make it possible for people to stay safe in any way they can.”

Many parts of Canada, including Toronto and 500 other Ontario communities, offer 911 texting for people with hearing or speech impairments.

In January, telecom regulator the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission launched consultations on revamping 911 services, and expanding 911 texting may be considered.

With files from The Canadian Press

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