As a dispatcher for the Claremore Police Department, Stacey Dowden is accustomed to busy days.
Since the recent transition to 10-digit-dialing however, her days have been even busier, as she and other dispatchers have seen an influx of misdials to the 911 emergency line.
“Overall, the transition to 10-digit-dialing has been smooth, except for people accidentally calling our emergency (911) line,” Dowden said. “It may sound funny that people would ‘accidentally’ call 911 with callers now required to include 918 when they call someone with that area code, it’s become routine for us to get call from people meaning to call 918 but accidentally holding down the one digit too long or hitting it twice and it transfers to us.”
Although embarrassed, callers usually apologize for their error and hang up, but others hang up without speaking — a mistake, according to Dowden.
“When we get a misdial, we’d much rather the caller let us know it was an accident — no harm done, and they won’t get into trouble,” she said. “If we get a call to our 911 line and it’s a hang-up, we send an officer out to check on the person, which — if it’s a misdial — is an expenditure of our officer’s time and can be even more embarrassing (for the caller).”
Dowden said the 911 misdials have been similarly common at the Sheriff’s department, but she expects them to wane as people become more accustomed to dialing 918 when calling local numbers.
“Eventually, we should see less and less (911) misdials, I think,” she said. “Like anything else, people just need time to get into the habit of 10-digit-dialing and the more they practice it, the less likely it will be that they accidentally call 911 by mistake.”
The Claremore Police Department’s non-emergency line is (918) 341-1212.