“Please take me home in your patrol car because I don't have enough money for a taxi." “My girlfriend dumped me. What should I do?” “I spotted a big snake in the park. Please capture it.” These are just a few of the “emergency calls” that police receive every day, and which are diverting them from their regular duties.
“Capturing snakes is not our job. How can we act in more serious cases if we are being called out for these sort of cases?” said a Tochigi prefectural police spokesman. According to National Police Agency figures, 950,000 inappropriate emergency calls were received by police nationwide in 2007, up from 880,000 in 2004.
One area in which police are being called to intervene more is domestic disputes. “In the past, police considered domestic disputes as a private family matter and rarely intervened. But domestic violence has become a big problem in society, and we are getting a lot more emergency calls related to it,” said the Tochigi police spokesman. "The problem is that in many cases, it is really not a case of domestic violence, but just an argument or a spiteful neighbor."
One police officer told Shukan Post: “There are people who intentionally make nuisance calls to police. For example, we've had people who called us, complaining that their neighbors were making a terrible noise at night and that they must be fighting. But it turned out that they just wanted to make a bad reputation for their neighhbors because they didn't like them.”
“People who make inappropriate emergency calls are a problem,” said journalist Akihiro Otani. “It goes back to 1999 when the police force started to suffer one scandal after another. Some people just want to vent their anger at the police. For their part, police are conscious of their reputation in the community and have to make every effort to listen to the voices of ordinary citizens on even trivial matters. But things are getting out of hand. Police officials are worried about complaints against them and tend to take a 'nothing-is-wrong' policy' to avoid potential trouble. But I think they should at least take a tougher attitude toward inappropriate emergency calls.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)© Japan Today