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Lauren, the protagonist of this viral Facebook post, "actually listened to her parents."
They had told her to never pull over for an unmarked police car on the side of the road — to wait for a gas station instead — so when an unmarked car pulled up behind her one day and put its lights on, she called 112. Why?
"To tell the dispatcher that she would not pull over right away," says the post, which has been enjoying fresh shares on Facebook despite its original posting date of Aug. 13, 2013. "She proceeded to tell the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his rooftop behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren’t, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had backup already on the way. Ten minutes later four cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes."
The post goes on to explain that 112 is an emergency number that "applies in all 50 states" and provides a "direct link to state trooper info," then urges readers to spread the post to everyone as it "may well save a life."
This post, shared by more than 2.9 million people so far, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) The rumor has been circulating online since at least 2002, when Snopes found it being shared in an email and rated it False.
Here’s what we can tell you: 911 is the only official emergency number in the United States. But 112 is an emergency number in some other countries, according to the U.S. Department of State, including Austria, Denmark, and the Canary Islands.
In response to this warning spreading on social media, a Fox News affiliate in Milwaukee, Wis., in 2013 consulted the local sheriff’s department about the post’s claims and an NBC affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., in 2017, did the same with its local law enforcement. In both cases, law enforcement told the news outlets that while dialing 112 in the United States can sometimes redirect callers to 911, it does not result in any special handling of one’s emergency call. A sergeant told Fox that because several wireless carriers sell cell phones in both the United States and overseas, they convert the emergency number dialed to the appropriate local emergency number. (This reporter and Sprint subscriber tried calling 112 on her phone and the phone read "emergency call" as it tried to connect.)
U.S. government officials and public safety responders universally encourage people to dial 911 — and no other number — during an emergency.
"There is no guarantee a person will be rerouted to an emergency number," a police spokesperson told the Paradise View in Las Vegas in 2013.
We rate this Facebook post False.
Facebook post, Aug. 13, 2013
Fox 6 Milwaukee, Alert: In case of emergency, dial 911 and NOT 112, March 1, 2013
WCNC, Dialing 112 instead of 911?, Aug. 15, 2017
U.S. State Department, 911 abroad, visited Nov. 4, 2019
Snopes, Should you call #77 or 112 to contact the police in an emergency? March 17, 2002
Paradise View, Police advise again 911 alternatives, March 12, 2013
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