Emergency line calls double during holidays, say police
Calls to the emergency 9-1-1 and 9-1-9 lines double and sometimes triple during the holiday season, according to police.
Nearly every type of call, from robberies to reports of shootings and break-ins usually increase during the days before and after Christmas break. No matter the circumstance police are obligated to look into the claims, said Sergeant Jacqueline Knowles.
“Once we receive the calls it is our duty to dispatch what we call the mobile unit,”Sergeant Jacqueline Knowles said.”During a 20-hour rotational shift we get anywhere from 150 to more than 200 emergency calls.”
Those figures are nearly double the average amount of calls that normally come through the emergency line, police said.
At least four to five police officers and hospital staff man the call center in eight hour shifts. That skeleton staff is responsible for taking emergency calls from across The Bahamas and dispatching officers to the potential crime scenes.
WhenThe Nassau Guardianvisited the call center, the majority of the calls were reports of house breaking and robberies in progress.
According to police, reports of those two crimes in particular have risen tremendously this year.
At the end of July crimes against the property increased by nine percent, with housebreaking up 21 percent. Since then, there have been frequent reports of house breakings. Police have been successful in cracking several major housebreaking rings, particularly in the southwest part of the island.
Officials believe that the economic downturn is a contributing factor to the rise in crime.
In mid-September the call system went down for a 12-hour period. At the time, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said it would cost millions of dollars to replace the outdated system.
But Sergeant Knowles said there has been no disruption under her watch.
In fact, she added that the call center continues to be plagued by another problem: Prank calls.
The vast majority of the prank calls come from children, she said.
She cautioned parents to monitor their children and their actions. She added that the police do not have time to deal with those type of calls.
The call center, which is operated out of the police control room, is the nation’s main call intake center for medical or criminal emergencies.