As officers were scrambling to find a missing 11-year-old Brampton girl who was the subject of an Amber alert last month, operators at the Peel Regional Police communication centre were busy fielding wasteful 911 calls, including one from a resident who was upset that the emergency notification had interrupted the Leafs game on television.

The shocking revelation was contained in a new report about the misuse of the 911 system that was considered by the Peel Regional Police Service board on Friday.

The report reveals that there was a significant uptick in wasteful 911 calls in the hours after an Amber Alert was issued for Riya Rajkumar late on the night of Feb. 14. Rajkumar was eventually found dead and her father was charged with murder in her death, though he later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The report says that the total volume of 911 calls received between 11 p.m. on Feb. 14 when the Amber Alert was first issued and 3 a.m. on Feb. 15 when it was lifted was 208, which represents a 65 per cent increase on the usual call volume during that time period.

While some of those calls were genuine, the report says that 43 per cent of them were deemed as wasteful.

“While a number of people called in with information they felt might assist the investigation, many members of the public deliberately called 911 to voice their displeasure at receiving the Amber Alert at such a late hour,” the report says. “It should be noted that the calls complaining about the Amber Alert continued to be received by Peel Regional Police on both 911 and through the switchboard well into the day on Feb. 15.”

Police did express exasperation with the number of 911 calls complaining about the Amber Alert back in February but the report considered by the Peel Regional Police Service board paints a more detailed picture about those wasteful calls.

Here is a snapshot of some of the more disheartening 911 calls regarding the Amber Alert:

  • “No one can watch TV until this child is found. This will destroy our program, you can’t take away TV completely, it has to be secondary.”
  • “You have an Amber Alert that I can’t get off my TV.”
  • “How can I make a complaint about you guys abusing the national emergency system?”
  • “She is with her father. I don’t think this is a national emergency.”
  • “This is an invasion of my privacy.”
  • “We are trying to watch the Leafs game.”