911 ‘Butt Dial’ Leads to Man’s Arrest in Texas

Cellphone in pocket
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Law enforcement officers in south Texas made three arrests after a man inadvertently “butt-dialed” 911 and someone was heard talking to his friends about having warrants for his arrest. A police body cam video of the arrest posted on the police department Facebook page has gone viral. At the end of the video, a frequently seen photo used as a meme on Facebook was inscribed with the message, “I don’t always pocket dial 911, but when I do, I tell them I have warrants.”

Fox4 News reported that the police department wrote on the post, “Butt-dialing is a hazardous nuisance. Hazardous to the one who received a 12 year prison sentence, and a nuisance to our 911 communications division.”

The four men involved were either getting into a car or riding in a car when one of them butt-dialed 911. Their conversations were overheard by a 911 operator. One of the men was talking about getting into shape, there are conversations containing explicit language, and one or two of the men are overheard saying there are warrants out for their arrest. The 911 communications operator notified police officers after hearing the call.

The Aransas Pass Police Chief, Eric Blanchard, was reported to have said that 911 operators in the area get 15-25 butt-dials daily. He could not remember another time when one of the butt-calls led to an arrest.

The arrests were made in late August but the Facebook post was reported to have been posted last Wednesday.

According to a new study, thirty percent of all 911 calls are pocket dials from cell phones. A Google volunteer project report was done on the call volume and incident data from San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management. The BCC reported that the California city had experienced a 28% increase in calls between 2011 and 2014. Emergency operators had to spend one minute and 14 seconds on average listening to these calls in order to determine if there was a real emergency. The great majority, 80 percent of these operators, said that calling people back to determine if there was a real emergency was a very time-consuming part of their day. According to the report, approximately 50 percent of the 911 calls in New York are pocket dials.

The UK has created a system to address the problem called “Silent Solutions.” It requires the caller to press “55” if they are in need of help. The system received criticism after 17-year-old Hannah Foster was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in 2003. She called 999 for help hoping an operator would listen to what was happening but was disconnected when she did not speak directly when the operator asked her questions, as reported by the The Telegraph. Foster was in a car with the kidnapper at the time of the call.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2