By: Kevin Clark
June 5, 2014 6pm
Madison, FL - On a daily basis in Madison County, 9-1-1 dispatch can expect anywhere from 3 to 15 calls that are non-emergency, prank dials, or hang-ups.
Sheriffs say not only does this take up the dispatcher's time, but it can be dangerous to those with 9-1-1 emergencies.
"Each time a 9-1-1 call comes in, it occupies one of those lines," said Ben Stewart, Sheriff of Madison County. "Until one of them is freed up, any new incoming 9-1-1 call is put on a rollover."
Misusing 9-1-1 may not sound like a big issue, but sheriffs say it's happening more than ever.
There are also set penalties.
"If a person calls and keeps misusing the system, we usually send a law enforcement officer to talk to them," said Juan Botino, Madison County 9-1-1 coordinator.
"If we can show that you did this maliciously and on purpose, your first offense is a misdemeanor, a first degree misdemeanor...you can be put in jail for it."
Officials say if you're not sure whether something is an emergency, use your best judgment or call the administrative hotline.