Richard J. Rodriguez, 25, called the police to help him out of a sticky situation early Tuesday morning when he realized he had locked his keys in his car. It’s uncertain how the first call transpired, but Rodriguez decided to call 911 for a second time after authorities didn’t come to his residence. During the second call, dispatchers warned Rodriguez that 911 should only be used in an emergency, and that he should not abuse the system.
Apparently Rodriguez believed being late for his probation hearing qualified as an emergency, because he dialed 911 for a third time, even though officers were already en route to preform a wellness check.
A “highly intoxicated” Rodriguez greeted officers when they arrived at his residence. Shortly thereafter he was arrested for making false 911 calls.
Newly Upgraded Charge
As the law reads, a person may not call 911 “for the purpose of making or transmitting a false alarm or complaint and reporting information when, at the time the call or transmission is made, the person knows there is no reasonable ground for making the call or transmission and further knows that the call or transmission could result in the emergency response of any public safety agency.”
Abuse of emergency services has only recently been upgraded to felony level. The crime was upgraded to a felony in 2011 when Governor Pat Quinn signed a new bill in hopes of deterring people from abusing the system.
“By making the penalty harsher, this new law will help deter people from placing false 911 calls,” Quinn said in an earlier press release.
If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to three years in prison and could be fined up to $25,000.
Sean Sullivan comments
This seems to be a very harsh result for simply calling 911, but people don’t realize it is a crime to call the emergency response number without an actual emergency. Normally we hear these stories as funny anecdotes about kids calling the police on their parents or prank calls of some sort.
What I suspect was this man’s undoing was the fact that he called 911 multiple times and was quite intoxicated when the police arrived. I would think officers may have overlooked one call, but it does become a danger to the public when the police repeatedly have to respond to a situation that is not an emergency. This man may very well be fined the cost of the officer’s responses. That is a common punishment levied by the courts in these types of cases.
Related sources: Chicago Tribune, 911 Dispatch