amber alert

Amber Alert wakes up Toronto in the middle of the night

Toronto Police are once again asking citizens not to call 911 to complain about being woken up by an Amber Alert after a late-night emergency notice startled many across the province.

The alert, which went out just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, was for a three-year-old boy and a 25-year-old woman who investigators believed had boarded a bus from Sudbury to Toronto on Monday.

Police announced shortly before 8 a.m. that the child had been found safe in a downtown Toronto building near Fort York and Lakeshore.

Several Ontario police forces also took to Twitter to reveal that their local 911 dispatch centres were being inundated with calls from people who did not have information to share, but wanted to complain about being woken up.

"Once again our Communications Centre has been receiving a number of calls from citizens using it as a platform to complain about being awaken by the Amber Alert," wrote Toronto Police on Twitter while the alert was still active.

"REMINDER: 9-1-1 is for EMERGENCIES ONLY. Please help us to keep our phone lines free for real emergencies. Thanks."

The "air raid siren" alert tone is admittedly scary (that's the point), and it wasn't until last year that Ontario upgraded its Emergency Alert system to include mobile devices.

Still, it's been a full year now (on the dot, actually) since Toronto experienced its first big Amber Alert-on-cellphones shock and people continue to complain about it via 911.

Police, elected officials and concerned citizens alike are expressing their disappointment and frustration en masse in light of how some are reacting to this morning's alert.

"9-1-1 is not a complaint line," wrote Toronto Mayor John Tory on Twitter. "Please only call 9-1-1 for emergencies. Being woken up by an Amber Alert is not an emergency."

Peel Regional Police reminded members of the public that "the service is used for a reason and a purpose."

Indeed, an Amber Alert was directly responsible for locating the killer of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar in Peel Region a few months ago. The young girl was found dead in her father's basement apartment after an apparent abduction on Valentine's Day.

Police arrested Roopesh Rajkumar not long after his daughter's death in a high-risk, highway takedown when a motorist recognized his car from the Amber Alert and called 911. He later died in hospital as the result of a self-inflicted gun wound.

The three-year-old boy who was the subject of this morning's Amber Alert is, quite fortunately, safe, though many are pointing out that such an outcome isn't always guaranteed.

"If you're gonna complain about the amber alert because you care more about your sleep than a child, you're a shithead," reads one popular tweet sent out around 5 a.m. 

"I think the Toronto Police should start issuing tickets and or charging folks with mischief," reads another. "Because they are not getting the message."

Lead photo by

Ontario Provincial Police

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