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Police: Boy Made Hundreds of 911 Calls

February 16, 2005

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A teenager has been accused of using a stolen mobile phone to swamp dispatchers with hundreds of bogus 911 calls over a matter of weeks, at times talking of killing some of the responding officers he could see.

The 15-year-old boy sometimes was such a nuisance he called in new emergencies at the same address where officers already were standing, St. Louis County Police spokesman Mason Keller said Wednesday.

Such was the case Sunday, when the young culprit was tracked down only after dispatchers fielded 25 bogus calls within 75 minutes to the same area where the officer already had arrived, Keller said.

The boy has been referred to St. Louis County Family Court, where information on possible charges was not immediately available Wednesday. He was not identified because he is charged as a juvenile.

Despite all of the bogus reports, emergency officials only responded three times, given the ability of dispatchers to either recognize the voice of the prankster or the calls came so quickly in succession, involving the same address or neighborhood, Keller said.

Still, authorities say such abuses could slow dispatches to real emergencies or put responders _ and other drivers _ at risk when emergency crews needlessly rush to what turn out to be bogus calls, Keller said.

``Any time the 911 system is abused, it takes valuable time away from actual emergencies,″ Keller said.

Keller said the teen used a stolen cell phone that despite being deactivated could still call 911. Dispatchers can track the location of 911 calls from landline phones but not from wireless ones.

Authorities said the mystery about the calls was lifted Sunday night, when someone using a cell phone reported a man with a knife at an address in Black Jack, a St. Louis suburb. Police knew the location well, having already been there several times that day, dozens of times in previous weeks and still other times to other addresses on that block.

The reported ``emergencies″ ran the gamut, from assaults to domestic fights to heart attacks.

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