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Premont chief stresses importance of calling 9-1-1

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 18, 2024

  • Premont police are having residents call officers' cell phones instead of 9-1-1.
  • Premont Police Chief said this practice was something done by the prior administration, but he discourages anyone from calling an officer's cell phone for emergency assistance.

Premont police are having a unique problem. Premont Police Chief said residents have become accustomed to not calling 9-1-1 for emergencies.

Chief Ricardo Garcia stresses the importance of residents calling 9-1-1 for emergencies, not the officers' cell numbers.

“And they think these officers are on duty 24/7. They’re not,” said Premont resident Ruben Ramirez Jr.

Ruben Ramirez has lived in Premont for a short time. He understands the work of officers, but he said because the town is small, residents may know officers personally, leading to some residents bypassing 9-1-1 calls.

“The dispatcher will make a paper trail in case they need to go back and investigate. It’s very important that you use the 9-1-1 system. That’s why it was set up. For everybody’s protection, and it’ll expedite the call, and the officers can respond accordingly,” Ramirez said.

Premont Police Chief Ricardo Garcia said he’s seen exactly that. Over the weekend he made a Facebook post reminding residents to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

The chief has worked in the small town for less than a year, and he’s noticed more emergency-type calls going to officer’s cell phones.

“What we’re concerned about is I shouldn’t be getting a phone call at two in the morning. Going, ‘Hey chief, I think somebody’s in my front yard.’ It’s two in the morning, I can’t help you. I need you to spend that valuable time instead calling dispatch so that we can get an officer over to your house immediately,” Garcia said.

Garcia understands that Premont residents had called officers' work numbers directly over the years. However, while officers work numbers are out in the community, he discourages this practice.

As officers, they aren’t always near their cell phones but are always near a police radio, waiting for instructions from dispatch. Plus, calling in calls also holds the department accountable.

“It allows us to keep track of the cases and calls that are coming in. It allows us to be accountable in that sense,” Garcia said.

Garcia said as an officer, they are on the streets — patrolling, keeping a watchful eye and conducting traffic stops.

“Ultimately, every police officer has their radio on them and in their vehicle. We’re waiting for dispatch to send us somewhere,” he said.

Premont Police Chief Ricardo Garcia said calling officers directly may appeal to Premont residents. Garcia and his officers are having to remind residents that 9-1-1 is designed to get them a faster response; cell phones do not guarantee a response from first responders.

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