Murder call is a fake

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2003

Friday afternoon, officers with the Andalusia Police Department

responded to a 911 call regarding a possible murder which had allegedly taken place on King Street.

When officers David Connor and John Baldwin arrived, what they discovered was a burned-out residence with no sign of any possible homicide, and the matter ultimately turned out to be a prank call.

"We of course had to respond (to the call) to verify whether something had occurred or not, and it turned out to be a prank call," said Connor.

This is not the first time, however, that the APD has had to deal with such a call, and Connor said prank calls have actually been a recurring problem.

"E-911 hang-ups plague us," said Connor. "We have a lot of problems with E-911 hang-ups and children playing on the phone."

He said if the person making the calls is detected, he or she could face possible charges, such as filing a false report, as well as other charges, but Connor added the calls are just as costly to the staff of the APD.

"(The calls) tie up our officers," said Connor. "If we have a murder call and two E-911 hang-ups, we still have to send officers to all three calls just to make sure if there is a problem or not."

He said that approximately 90 percent of the E-911 hang-ups are basically just children playing on the phone, which is a common sight on the E-911 dispatch report.

"What we have to do (when the children making the calls are identified), is contact the parents and just inform them (of the magnitude of the problems which can be caused by phone pranksters)," said Connor.

He said phone pranksters can be troublesome enough for a police department with a large number of employees, but can be downright crippling for a department the size of Andalusia's squad.

"(The calls) can tie up our manpower and sometimes we have to pull investigators off of an important case they may be working on to investigate one of these calls," said Connor. "Sometimes, depending on the situation of our manpower, we may even have to pull (Police Chief Wilbur Williams Jr.) off of something that he may be working on."