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Hundreds of false 911 calls come from one apartment complex

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Memphis Police Department deals with hundreds, if not thousands, of 911 calls every day. But, not all of those calls are legit. Memphis Police Department deals with hundreds, if not thousands, of 911 calls every day. But, not all of those calls are legit.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - Memphis Police Department deals with hundreds, if not thousands, of 911 calls every day. But, not all of those calls are legit. 

More than 100 fake calls to police all came from the same apartment complex. In the past month, MPD responded to River City Heights Townhomes near Winchester Road and Old Getwell Road for calls regarding shootings, robberies, and fires that never happened.

"I see the ambulances, the police, I mean, I just basically look out the window and mind my business," said resident Shamere Johnson.

Sometimes, callers even hang up before police can figure out what's going on.

"You got manpower that's been out on that scene, several cars checking the area, nothing. That's a bogus call," said Marvin Pender, Memphis Police Department.

Officers don't have an exact number of how many bogus calls they receive in Memphis every year, but the number is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in wasted time and resources.

"Something has to be done," said Memphis City Council Chairman Edmund Ford Jr., who says the current laws don't do enough to discourage bogus 911 calls.

Ford wants the city to increase the penalty and raise the fine. He says it cost roughly $90 for a police officer to respond and $250 for firefighters to respond.

"Manpower, gasoline, wear and tear on the vehicles, all of those things," he added.

"The money could be used on other things beside police constantly coming out this way and bogus calls. I didn't know anything about that, that's crazy," said Johnson.

According to Ford, last year false home alarm calls cost the city more than $1 million, which prompted an ordinance to increase the fines.

"I know we can do something similar for false 911 calls," he said.

Councilman Ford says the problem goes beyond the financial burden, "It costs the taxpayers. It may cost somebody their life."

River City Heights Townhomes are just one example of the dangers that come from abusing the 911 system.

Police have not said the apartment complex is in anyway involved.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to the townhomes' management for comment, but they declined.

Police say most bogus 911 calls come from disabled phones and children. Parents are advised to talk with their children and explain that 911 is for emergencies only.

To see the list of 911 calls made to River City Heights Townhomes, click here: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/bogus_911_calls.pdf

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