CALEXICO, Calif. - Calexico Police Dispatcher Leopoldo Miramon said on Tuesday they’re having some problems with the emergency 911 number. Well, actually, a lot of problems, he said.
As an example, a call came in during our interview.
“911. Where is your emergency? Hello. Do you have an emergency? For instance, they hung up,” he said as he hung up the phone.
Miramon said that may have been somebody from Mexicali calling and getting the Calexico station by mistake. And it’s happening a lot and creating a problem.
“They’ve extremely backed up the system itself. We only have three emergency lines at this time, which is enough for the city of Calexico. However, now that Mexicali has converted over to the nine-one-one system where they’re not zero-sixty-six any longer, we get multiple calls,” Miramon said.
Lieutenant Gonzalo Gerardo explains it all began about three months ago when Mexico changed their emergency number.
“If they’re in the proximity of the antenna, it’ll pick up their cell phone 911 and it comes to us here in Calexico,” Gerardo said.
This can affect Calexico residents.
“So, at that point you’re going to tap all our 911 lines with calls from Mexicali. And if somebody from the U.S. is trying to get through with a medical call or something like that, it’s going to delay us answering their calls because we’re busy answering the 911s from Mexico,” Gerardo said.
The mix-up affects Mexicali residents as well.
“They call 911, they hear us asking 911 in English, and they’ll hang up,” Miramon said, pointing to the call that had just come during our interview.
Police are working with telecommunication providers to solve the problem. Police ask the public to use 911 exclusively for emergencies or face negative consequences.
"It could be subject to arrest. And it’s happened in the past,” Miramon said.
He went on to explain that if a person continues to use 911 for any other purpose than an emergency in progress, that person could face arrest. To keep 911 lines open for real emergencies is a matter of life and death, he said.