A Chicago City Council committee advanced a measure on Tuesday that would bring the hammer down on people who make bogus calls to the city’s 911 emergency center, reports the Tribune. Just the threat of fines that would range as high as $1,000 already appears to have had an effect on crank callers, said Ron Huberman, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Since Nov. 19, when he first talked publicly about a possible crackdown, the number of phony calls has declined by 17 percent from the 156,000 tallied between Nov. 19 and Dec. 14 of last year, Huberman said.
In each of the last three years, crank calls have totaled more than 2 million, about 35 percent of all 911 calls. Emergency responders risk injury as they rush to phony calls, and the needless responses take them away from real emergencies, officials said. They note an investigation has begun into a person who has made more than 1,000 bogus calls from a single number. Known to 911 workers as “the whistleblower,” he spews profanities and then blows a whistle.