What is '112' cell phone feature?What should a person do if pulled over by a vehicle that they are not sure is a squad car, especially in a remote area?
By: Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Trooper, Alexandria Echo Press
Question: Is there any truth to the “112” cell phone feature going around from e-mail to e-mail? It is the story of a woman traveling alone and she is stopped by a suspicious unmarked car. She uses the 112 feature and is directly connected with the State Patrol dispatch and gives them her location. Dispatch then checks with the troopers to see if anyone is conducting a traffic stop in that area. According to the story, nobody is and the real troopers are then dispatched to the location where they arrest a rapist for impersonating a police officer. As a woman that travels alone frequently, this e-mail made me wonder what I should do if I was to be pulled over by a vehicle that I’m not sure is a squad car, especially in a remote area.
Answer: I have seen this e-mail mentioning the 112 cell phone feature many times before. I did my home work a few ways. I tried calling it: No luck going through. So then I checked with several of the local cell phone providers. They were not aware of any such feature. I then went through a trusted online source and this is what I discovered. It appears that dialing 112 is a mixture of true and false information. It is a feature that can be used in other parts of the world, primarily Europe.
So this is what Trooper Jesse says to do if you find yourself in this type of situation. Try to pull over in a well lit area; however, these are few and far between out in the rural areas. Try to get a good visual on the vehicle type: State Patrol is maroon with white doors; county sheriff’s is brown and/or white; local city police is blue or black and white. These are all generally speaking and more agencies are using SUVs and pickups, along with unmarked squads.
Note the number of emergency lights being used. If it is one single lone red light, I’d be very suspicious; even unmarked squads should have a fair amount of lights. Most agencies use a spot light along with the other emergency lights when conducting vehicle stops at night.
Is the vehicle equipped with a push bumper? Are you able to see the officer or number of people in the vehicle? What type of uniform is the officer wearing? If I were to have any of these doubts, I would not stop. I would then call “911.”
There is no reason to use another number. 911 is still the best way to reach a police officer if you need assistance.
You will then be connected with a dispatcher who will ask, “What is your emergency?” Be prepared to give your location and your vehicle description and they will be able to verify if any officers are making a stop in that location on your vehicle.
Chances are, if they are a legitimate officer, and you are not stopping for their emergency lights and/or siren, they will be calling out a pursuit to their dispatcher and you should be able to get this resolved quickly.
Let’s say you are in a situation where you don’t have a cell phone. If I was suspicious, I would drive at a slow speed to the most populous or well lit area. Use your best judgment. If you start hearing a siren, I’d say that could be a legitimate clue. If you start seeing other vehicles with red flashing lights joining in, I’d say stop as soon as possible.
While impersonating police officers is very rare, this can still happen. Think about the situation at hand, use good common sense, and don’t panic. You will need to articulate yourself clearly to the dispatcher, and this will best guarantee the quality of service you receive. In situations requiring emergency assistance, ALWAYS USE 911.
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes MN 56501-2205. Or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.