Niagara Regional Police have shared a complaint made to a 911 call centre during Tuesday’s Amber Alert about a three-year-old child from Sudbury who was believed to have been in imminent danger.
In the call, a complainant uses profanity when confronting operators and asking why he received the alert on his phone.
“I want to know who the hell is sending these alerts out. What right do you have to send an alert out to Niagara Falls? Wake me up at five o’clock in the (expletive) morning,” said the complainant.
Niagara police Const. Phil Gavin told Global News that Niagara call centre operators fielded at least 10 Amber Alert complaint calls on Tuesday morning.
“The call actually goes on longer than what we posted to social media,” said Gavin, who went onto say that all the voices in the post were distorted to hide identities.
Gavin says the message police are sending with the Twitter post is about the importance of keeping 911 lines clear for real emergencies.
“The call is disappointing, but we hope this can be used as a catalyst for education,” he added, “We felt there was a need for continued education regarding the 911 System and the Amber Alert Program. We recognized that the call was a piece that would support that message.”
Tuesday’s provincewide Amber Alert was issued at the request of the Greater Sudbury Police Service just before 5 a.m. for a missing three-year-old boy, who was last seen on a bus travelling to Toronto from Sudbury with a woman.
Toronto police told Global News the boy was located at a condo near Lake Shore Boulevard West and Fort York Boulevard in the city’s downtown just before 8 a.m., about three hours after the alert was issued.
Complaints to 911 about Tuesday’s Amber Alert were not isolated to just Niagara police, as both Toronto and Waterloo officers confirmed through social media that calls were made to their emergency centres.
Niagara police’s decision to release audio of an Amber Alert complaint is not new; Peel Regional Police did the same thing months ago when 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar went missing.
In the calls released by Peel police, one person reportedly called the alert “an invasion of my privacy,” while another reportedly told the operator: “No one can watch TV until the child is found. This will destroy our program. You can’t take away TV completely — it has to be secondary.”
Rajkumar died on Feb. 14, which was also her 11th birthday. She was found dead in her father’s home near Hansen Road North and Crawford Drive in Brampton after an Amber Alert was issued.
In 2015, Canada’s National Public Alerting System was launched, which requires television and radio stations, television providers and LTE mobile networks to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats, such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.
The order to implement the system came from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and does not allow Canadians to opt out of receiving the alerts.
—With files from Nick Westoll