WTNH: Nuisance 911 calls could cost residents
By Eric Cox
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Residents are outraged over fees for unnecessary 911 calls. New Britain passed an ordinance last year, fining property owners for what are being referred to as “nuisance” calls.
A call to 911 did bring a response. However, a commercial set to air Thursday shows a woman with a split lip and black eye, claiming people won’t call fearing they will have to pay for it.
“What would happen if you had to pay a fee for 911,” a voice in the commercial says.
Americans for Prosperity Connecticut are launching the spot seeking support for a state bill prohibiting cities and towns from charging additional fees for 911 calls.
“One person loses his life from this it’s too many,” said J.R. Romano, Americans for Prosperity.
Last year, the city of New Britain passed an ordinance fining property owners for repeated “nuisance” calls despite landlords demonstrating against it.
Republican State Representative Robert Sampson predicts other towns will follow suit.
“I think that when a town goes a little to far and it starts to shift the burden to the wrong people I think that’s the right opportunity for the state to step in and pre-empt them doing so,” said Rep. Sampson.
New Britain says even if the state legislation passes it won’t change anything there.
Officials say folks are not fined for calling 911, rather charged if repeated visits are determined to be nuisances, not emergencies. At this point it’s not clear if there have been a reduction in any kind to emergency dispatch.
“Our safety should never be a revenue source,” the commercial says.
New Britain city officials say the commercial creates the fear; backers call it a warning to Connecticut.
“No one should have to be charged for dialing 911 or even fear that they might be,” said Romano.
So far no one there has been fined for a nuisance call.