Emergency cell phone program is offered in county | RecordCourier.com

Emergency cell phone program is offered in county

by Merrie Leininger

Remember the other day when you were driving down the road and saw a suspicious car where it shouldn’t be, but didn’t want to call 911 about a non-emergency? Or maybe you were a witness to a minor fender-bender, but didn’t know what number to call.

Help is on the way, at least for those who have wireless phones through AT&T.

Sheriff Ron Pierini and Communications Director Dick Mirgon have arranged for AT&T to foot the bill for a crime prevention number for their cellular phones.

The idea has been used by the Highway Department and by the Reno police he said.

Anyone with an AT&T cell phone can dial #COP, which translates into #267. They will directly be connected to the Douglas County Dispatch center in Minden, no matter where they are in the county.

n Crime prevention. Pierini said the number should help the department stop crimes and respond faster if the community uses it.

He estimated about 85 percent of Douglas County cell phone owners have AT&T phones.

“The number can be used to report minor traffic accidents or if someone sees a group of individuals that appear to be suspicious,” Perini said. “We don’t want to bog down the 911 system with non-emergency calls, but we want people to report things like that and they don’t know any other number. They don’t have phone books in their cars.”

He said it will be a real plus for law enforcement if citizens use it.

“We can’t survive without the community helping out a lot. I can put a lot more officers out there, but the community sees the crime, and without their assistance, we can’t survive,” he said. “We have a really good rapport with the community. This will help us a lot because there are a lot of phones out there. This will have a great impact on reporting.”

Mirgon said he wanted to thank AT&T for their help.

“Thanks to AT&T, they provided this free and as a courtesy of AT&T wireless. They’re eating the cost on it. They’re helping us out,” he said.

The number will help the dispatchers distinguish which calls are priority and doesn’t tie up the 911 system.

Mirgon said he wants to make it clear this number should not be used to conduct administrative business.

He said the dispatch center answers about 60,000 calls a year with three or four dispatchers on a shift.

He said that number includes medical incidents, traffic accidents, crimes and fires and can reflect five or six calls about a single incident some times.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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