Calling 911 for Family Member’s Oil Leak Lands Florida Woman in Jail

May 28, 2019 Updated: May 28, 2019

A western Florida woman was behind bars after allegedly phoning the emergency services number to report a mechanical problem with a car.

Linda Sue Morgan, 55, is accused of dialing 911 on May 20 to complain about her brother’s parked car. The vehicle was allegedly leaking oil onto her driveway.

Morgan said she wanted to clean the driveway but her brother refused to move the car, so she decided to call 911 to ask law enforcement officials to pressure him to move his vehicle.

Gulfport police officers arrested Morgan and detained her at Pinellas County Jail, 14 miles northwest of St. Petersburg. She was released a day later.

The woman was previously held at the same jail on a $150 bond, WFLA reported.

Although Morgan walked free police are still treating the matter very seriously with plans to charge her with misusing the emergency call center number to report a non-life-threatening situation.

“There was no emergency or any situation that constituted an emergency,” an affidavit said, according to WFLA.

Jail records obtained by WFLA show Morgan was previously arrested for a string of charges including battery, criminal mischief, trespassing, reckless driving, having a vicious dog, and resisting an officer without violence.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press (AP) has busted a widely circulated myth on social media that it is possible to report danger using 911 by pretending to order a pizza to avoid arousing suspicion.

The reasoning behind this was dispatchers are only trained to ask specific yes or no questions, a concept that anti-domestic violence organization No More promoted in a 2015 Super Bowl public service ad.

The ad shows a woman making a call to 911 and the operator asks, “Where’s the emergency?” The woman gives her address and the dispatcher asks what the nature of the emergency is. She orders a pizza and the dispatcher asks if the call is a joke.

The woman continues placing the order and the dispatcher asks if she has an emergency or not, to which she says yes. The dispatcher sends assistance and the ad ends with the message, “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.”

After extensive investigation, AP confirmed dispatchers are not trained to interpret a takeout pizza order as a covert way of seeking emergency assistance in real life.

“[Asking for a] pizza in emergency situations is not standard practice or procedure,” National Emergency Number Association Dispatch Center Operations Director Christopher Carver told AP. “Setting any expectations of secret phrases that will work with any 911 center is potentially very dangerous.”

Carver recommends anyone who is unable to speak can text message 911 instead.

“People should make every effort to communicate their location to the 911 dispatcher,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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