Parents clog 911 for school traffic problems

By Michelle Paynter - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Some motorists aren't just calling 911 for emergencies. In fact with school back in session in Chatham County, many parents are tying up the phone lines.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police said the calls are far from life threatening situations.

Dispatchers in Chatham County's E-911 center answer the phone around the clock, dispatching officers to wrecks and shootings.

But this week, they've been getting far more calls than ever about school related traffic problems.

Dispatcher: Metro 911 what is your emergency?

Caller: I don't have an emergency. I was wondering if there was another number I could call for a traffic snarl?

Dispatcher: Metro 911 what's your emergency?

Caller: It's not an emergency, but out by the school on Gwinnett and Stiles Avenue the cars are parked all the way up to the light.

Dispatcher: Ma'am you need to call the non-emergency number for a parking complaint.

Capt. Larry Branson oversees the 911 center. He said these kinds of non-emergency calls to 911 have to stop.

"911 is for emergencies only, fires, accidents with injuries, people who get hurt, crimes in progress," Branson explained. "Cars backing up is not a 911 call."

One caller kept the dispatcher on the line for more than two minutes.

Dispatcher: Metro 911 where is your emergency?

Caller: Yes ma'am it's not really so much of an emergency, but the fact that I don't have a phone book to be able to call and report this but it's going to be an emergency because they have people almost slamming into the back of each other. Traffic is at a dead still stop and my son is here at Hess Elementary on Whitfield Avenue.

Branson fears his dispatchers may not respond to a true emergency call fast enough if they are tied up on a call like this. He's asking folks to be patient and "please don't call 911".

The non-emergency number to call in Chatham County is 912.652.6500.

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