A Wisconsin woman upset that KFC got her sandwich order wrong called 911.
Now a state legislator has proposed a bill that would outlaw such “frivolous” emergency calls.
State Rep. Lakeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, introduced a bill on Friday that says anyone who summons officers “to a location for a reason other than suspected criminal activity” should be charged with a misdemeanor.
“Attaching a misdemeanor to the abuse of these services reinforces to the public that we take public safety and the safety of our residents seriously,” Myers said in a statement on her Twitter account.
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The legislation is nicknamed the “BBQ Becky Bill,” after an Oakland, California, woman who called police on black men for grilling in a park.
Myers said she was inspired to introduce the bill after hearing about Rep. Janelle Bynum, a black lawmaker from Oregon, who had the police called on her while she was campaigning in her district.
Similar incidents — such as a San Francisco child’s getting harassed for selling water without a permit — also prompted her to propose the legislation.
These include a woman’s calling police in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Dec. 15 after a KFC worker allegedly refused to refund her money over a chicken-sandwich dispute, NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee reported.
“This is the type of absurdity that this bill aims to combat,” Myers said of such incidents. “There must be a penalty for people who misuse police services. There has to be a degree of responsibility when you contact the police; there needs to be a valid reason. Doing so flippantly can cause undue harm, danger and stress to the individuals involved.”
Myers said she hopes her bill will put an end to “frivolous calls to law enforcement.”
“Public safety officers are a resource that we must use wisely; when officers are frivolously contacted, this diverts time and resources that could be used to solve and deer actual crime,” she said. “We must ensure that individuals who utilize 9-1-1 and call the police are doing so for actual emergencies.”
Similar bills, some targeting racial profiling incidents, have been proposed by lawmakers in some other cities such as Grand Rapids, Michigan. Earlier this year, elected officials in that city proposed an ordinance that would make it “a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives.”
Oregon legislators voted to allow victims to sue a person who calls the police on them when they have not committed a crime.