Toronto police say people upset about Amber Alert notifications on their cellphones should not call 9-1-1.
They say they have received a number of complaints Tuesday about being awakened by an alert issued for a three-year-old boy.
Greater Sudbury police issued the alert at about 5 a.m. alleging the boy had been abducted by his mother and were possibly on a bus to Toronto on Monday.
The boy was found safe in Toronto at 8 a.m., and another alert went out to the public.
Toronto police say in a tweet that tying up the 9-1-1 lines could mean a slower response to an actual emergency.
Once again our Communications Centre has been receiving a number of calls from citizens using it as a platform to complain about being awaken by the Amber Alert.
9-1-1 is for EMERGENCIES ONLY. Please help us to keep our phone lines free for real emergencies. Thanks^adc
— Toronto Police OPS (@TPSOperations) May 14, 2019
Some people posted on Twitter that the Amber Alert system should be changed so it doesn’t wake people living far from where a child goes missing.
However, Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Maria St. Aubin was on the bus with the boy and his mother. She says the alert reminded her that she had seen them the previous day and it prompted her to call police with possibly relevant and important information.
“My phone number is a Timmins number. What if they had only done Sudbury and Toronto area? I wouldn’t have gotten it,” she tells 680 NEWS. “Really anyone can go anywhere – you take a bus, you take a train. I think that’s just important to know.”
To those complaining about the alert, St. Aubin says the importance of the matter outweighs the inconvenience of the alert.
“It’s an alert. Just look at it – if it has nothing to do with you, go back to sleep,” she says. “If that was your family member I think you’d want everybody to know. We’re rallying together to help find people and make sure everybody’s safe.”
Mayor John Tory also urged people not to use 9-1-1 as a “complaint line.”
9-1-1 is not a complaint line. Please only call 9-1-1 for emergencies. Being woken up by an Amber Alert is not an emergency. https://t.co/qHRtdpt354
— John Tory (@JohnTory) May 14, 2019
When asked about the people who called 9-1-1 to complain about the alert, Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones sent them a direct message.
“If I could speak to those individuals who called 91-1 — you’re actually making it more challenging for us to find these missing children. You’re making it more challenging for the police officers to do their job. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless you know it is an emergency,” she told CityNews.
Complaints about the alerts should actually go to the CRTC — the contact page is on the web.
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