Friday, December 6, 2013

$2,000 for Pack of Cigarettes – Never Delivered

Linda White, 48, of Granbury, Texas, called Hood County emergency dispatchers (911) at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 11 and asked deputies to make a delivery, while drinking at home with her boyfriend, Gary Roberts. "I need some cigarettes," she said in a recording of the call, before providing an address and name to dispatch.

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Later, she apologized and tried to explain. "We were just kicking it in the back yard — a few beers too many," she said. "Next thing you know, we're out of cigarettes. Well, I didn't want to drive to town. ... I was drunk, you know, but in my back yard.

"Who's the safest person to call?" she asked. "Your police department, I thought." Drunk or not, the sheriff's office said 911 is reserved for emergencies. "A call for deputies to bring cigarettes to the resident is not an emergency call," Hood County Chief Deputy Biff Temple said. White identified herself as Roberts during the call, before saying, “I think I dialed the wrong number” and hanging up.

The dispatcher confirmed the woman's address before the call was ended. Two deputies responded and found White and her boyfriend, Gary Roberts, quite intoxicated. "I just saw bright lights and knew," White said. He knew White was in trouble. "I knew, because I told her, 'Somebody is fixing to go to jail,'" he said.

White was booked on a charge of abusing 911, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail. She was released on $1,000 bond about six hours later, she said.

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"I am deeply sorry for what I did," she said in an interview outside her home. "I'm embarrassed. It's not me. "It is kind of funny," she said laughing.

White added that she learned the hard way not to call 911 with a frivolous request. "They don't deliver — they pick up," she said.

Sadly, this isn't the first such case. A Florida woman is still in jail for allegedly calling 911 six times for no apparent reason.

“What’s going on there ma’am?” the 911 operator asked. “None of your business! Just send me a sergeant. It’s none of your business! Why the hell are you so stupid?” Joan Mayo, 68, replied.

Each time Mayo got connected to the 911 center in St. Cloud on Tuesday, she screamed profanities at dispatchers and berated them, according to police. Officials said Mayo never had a clear reason for calling, but neighbors said she was looking for something in particular. “She just wanted cigarettes. That’s all she wanted. She wanted cigarettes,” said her neighbor, Lillian Morales.

The final straw came when police showed up to talk to her. Police said Mayo called 911 on her mobile phone a sixth time while they were in the parking lot dealing with the situation. Mayo was arrested and hauled off to jail on charges of misusing 911. “Rarely do we get calls like this for service,” said Sgt. Denise Roberts, of the Saint Cloud Police Department.

Police said this affected two agencies, because mobile phone calls are first answered by Osceola County, then routed to St. Cloud. But, Mayo won’t be forced to pay back money wasted investigating her calls because no real calls were delayed. Mayo allegedly told police she had no regard for the 911 system and would call whenever she wanted to.

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The Cape Girardeau woman who was arrested October 2011 on suspicion of calling 911 to send authorities to mediate a verbal altercation with her significant other called because the man would not speak to her or give her a cigarette, police say.

Jennifer O'Neal, 25, had run out of minutes on her mobile phone when she got into a verbal, nonviolent altercation with a man at her home, because he refused to give her a cigarette or speak to her, Cape Girardeau police spokesman Darin Hickey said. Because she had no minutes, O'Neal called 911 -- the only number a mobile phone can call when it is out of minutes -- to get someone to her house to mediate the altercation.

When police arrived at the home, O'Neal was arrested for misusing 911, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. O'Neal was being held in the Cape Girardeau County Jail on $1,500 bond. O'Neal had misused the number, Hickey said, because the altercation was nonviolent and there was no need for police involvement.

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