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Waterloo regional police received 330 dropped 911 calls overnight

Police ask cell phone users to disable the Emergency SOS feature on updated Android phones
911 emergency

Waterloo regional police say unintentional calls to 9-1-1 are putting a strain on emergency resources.

This morning, police tweeted to followers that WRPS received 330 cell phone dropped calls in a 24-hour period and asked everyone to review the Emergency SOS feature on their cell phones and smart watches. The tweet illustrated how to disable the feature.

Public information officer Const. Andre Johnson says the WRPS Communications Centre receives about 800 9-1-1 calls daily, so over 300 emergency dropped calls in less than 24 hours puts a strain on their call takers and thair ability to answer other 9-1-1 calls.

"While we can’t say with certainty why there has been an increase, we believe it is connected to cell phone updates that may automatically turn the Emergency SOS feature on," Johnson says. 

A recent update for Android phones is believed to be behind the uptick in 911 calls.

Pocket dials happen when the keypad on an unlocked mobile device carried in a pocket, purse, backpack or other piece of clothing is accidentally activated, causing the emergency call.

Other speculation about the increase in unintentional and dropped calls points to the possibility of children being given access to phones.

York Regional Police released a statement Wednesday saying many 9-1-1 calls occur when young children are given cell phones to play with as toys.

"Please be aware that even an old, inactive device with the SIM card removed can still dial 9-1-1."

Johnson urges anyone who accidentally dials 9-1-1 to stay on the line to let the call centre know what happened.