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Baltimore police hot line number connects callers to adult chat

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

A phone number for filing complaints about Baltimore police officers connected callers this week instead to an adult chat line advertising "hot ladies."

The toll-free 800 number listed on the site until earlier this week was supposed be a 24-7 hot line for an internal investigations detective. But that's not what greeted callers.

"Welcome to America's hottest talk line," a recorded female voice said. "Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk with you."

The Web page was dated April 28, 2008, at 4:24 a.m. but a note at the bottom said it was updated on Dec. 18, 2012, at 11:39 p.m. It listed only the Public Affairs Office as its author.

The number was taken down Tuesday after The Baltimore Sun called police for comment. Police spokesman Sgt. Jarron Jackson said the department was looking into what caused the error.

"Once we became aware of the issues with our website, we immediately had the matter corrected," Jackson said in a statement. "Providing a clear avenue for our citizens to report matters of concern to our internal affairs division has always been a priority to our department. We are currently investigating the cause of this issue."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that she has no evidence to suggest that the wrong number was added intentionally.

"I am certain that if it was intentional, I will get to the bottom of it," she said. "It was a pretty stupid thing to do if it was intentional — and in very poor taste."

The mayor said she's working on the belief that the situation stemmed from an error.

"When humans are involved, human error is involved," she said. "You never want a misstep like this to happen, [but] typos happen. It was brought to our attention and fixed immediately."

Steven Bond, who lives downtown, realized the error when calling to complain about a 911 dispatcher who he said was unhelpful and threatened to hang up on him Monday. Bond was at Brick Bodies gym near Charles Towers when he heard there was an intruder at the front desk.

Not knowing what was happening, Bond locked himself in a back room of the gym with two other patrons and called 911.

When he was unable to provide details of what was going on or tell the dispatcher the exact address of the gym, he said, she told him she would hang up on him. Eventually, he was able to look up the location on his phone and relay it to her. Officers arrived to investigate.

Nothing came of the incident, which Bond and a gym manager said involved a man walking into the gym and yelling at the front desk attendant who wouldn't give him a tour just minutes before closing time.

Bond said he was glad his situation turned out to be minor and said having cooperative dispatchers and the correct numbers on the site are crucial.

"It's a mess," he said.

A Sacramento television station in March reported a similar situation, in which an 800 number for a California health insurance program for the hearing-impaired was off by one digit, taking callers to another adult chat line.

Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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