Android phone update leads to sharp uptick in false 911 calls

The Anoka County Emergency Communications Center is seeing a sharp uptick in accidental 911 calls.

"From May 5 to June 5 there’s been about 2000 more," Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Coordinator Tierney Peters told FOX 9 on Monday.

Law enforcement believes it’s because of a recent Android software update with a feature that automatically calls 911 when a phone’s power button is quickly pressed five times. The feature is being accidentally triggered as people mow their lawn, ride a golf cart, or even just jostle their pockets.

"Up to 150 to 190 extra calls a day on some shifts," Anoka County Emergency Communications Assistant Director Kari Morrissey said. "It is taking away from other true emergencies."

"We are asking Android users out there to go into their phones to disable that feature, or if it’s a feature they do want to have on their phones, just be very conscious about accidental 911 dials," Peters continued.

Both Morrissey and Peters say if your phone accidentally calls 911, the most important thing is to not panic or hang up. Instead, stay on the line and explain the situation to the dispatcher, so that they don’t waste your county’s resources.

"You’re not in trouble, we want you to stay on the line so we don’t have to send help once you realize you called us," Morrissey finished.

A Google spokesperson told FOX 9 the following statement bout Android:

Keeping Android users safe and public safety infrastructure available are top priorities. We are aware of reports from emergency services of increased unintentional emergency calling rates related to the 5-button-press emergency calling ("Emergency SOS") feature. Android supports Emergency SOS because it can help users contact 911 more quickly in emergency situations. 

Android phone manufacturers who choose to offer Emergency SOS on their devices manage the implementation of the feature. To help these manufacturers prevent unintentional emergency calls on their devices, Android is providing them with additional guidance and resources. We anticipate device manufacturers will roll out updates to their users that address this issue shortly. Users that continue to experience this issue should contact their device’s manufacturer.