COLUMBUS, OH (WTEN/WCMH) – Law enforcement wants you to know that calling 911 to order a pizza in the event of an emergency is not recommended, contrary to reports on social media.
When you dial 911, your call is answered by operators trained to help you but they’re not trained to recognized code words like “pepperoni pizza.”
It was a Super Bowl ad using the real 911 call of a domestic violence victim that first brought the practice into the public eye. Now years later, it’s become viral again with a graphic shared all over social media stating, “If you need to call 911 but are scared to because someone is in the room, ask for a pepperoni pizza.”
The post suggests you call and say “can I order a pizza,” like a secret code meaning someone’s in danger.
But here’s the problem: 911 operators are not aware of this so-called code or any code.
Last week, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office shared a post debunking this myth. “…if you call 911 and ask to order a pizza, the dispatcher will inform you that you have called the emergency line and not a pizza restaurant. When you continue trying to order a pizza, the Comm. Tech. is going to figure out that there is a problem. (Unless you’re the drunk college kid that does this three times a week.) The dispatcher will start asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Or they may say things like, If someone is injured, ask for mushrooms.'”
Steve Smith with the Albany (New York) Police Department says “pizza” is not part of any protocol.
“We would never encourage anyone to say they’re ordering a pizza, it would probably be perceived as a prank call,” Smith said.
Instead, call and keep the line open or give your address and hang-up. A pizza order could confuse the operator and delay you getting help.
Operators say they’d never hang up, but would listen for signs of distress and ask yes or no questions until they can determine if there’s an emergency.
Police say if you do see this misinformation on the web, don’t share it or even comment, it will only give it more traction.