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ST. GEORGE — It's one of the most terrifying phrases police crews can hear over their radios: officer down. That's the call that came blaring through the St. George Police Department's frequency this week, and it sent responders scrambling.
The call came in just after noon on Wednesday: officer down at 1000 East and St. George Boulevard.
That could mean anything from a medical condition — such as a seizure or heart attack — to being shot by a suspect.
Officers and EMTs responded to the scene while dispatchers contacted all of the officers to make sure they were okay. It turned out it was all a prank, and police say pranks like this one do more than just waste department time and resources.
"Not only does it put us in a bad situation where we are responding to a false call, it's also putting us at stress that we really don't need in our line of work," said Officer Derek Lewis with the St. George Police Department. "I don't think many people want to go to work and hear one of their partners is down or anything like that. It's not good for our health; it's not good for the public's health."
It's not good for our health; it's not good for the public's health.
Investigators say the call came through their backup system at the 150 megahertz frequency. And while it's not illegal to listen in, people cannot talk over it.
"We'll probably once or twice, maybe three times a year get kids on the radio giggling and stuff like that," Lewis said. "But not to the extent of calling an officer down and a specific location — we don't see that very often at all."
Investigators are still trying to track down the person who radioed in the "officer down" call. If they're caught, they could face some serious charges.