BARABOO (WKOW) -- Social media can be a helpful tool for law enforcement. But recently, a mix-up has caused trouble for emergency dispatchers in Sauk County. It all has to do with a famous rapper, a local police department and a wrong phone number. And it may have caused emergency calls to go unanswered.
"It was a very busy night," said Susan Stoddard, referring to January 10. She's been an emergency dispatcher for 14 years. But she's never experienced more phone calls in one night.
"We had several slide-offs due to the road conditions," she explained. "We also had a one-year-old baby not breathing and turning purple."
On top of the real emergencies, hundreds of phone calls an hour were also coming through a non-emergency line from the Baraboo Police Department. That line is directly transferred to Sauk County dispatch after 4:30 p.m.
"These individuals were all asking for a rap artist by the name of Lil Uzi," said Captain Rob Sinden with the Baraboo Police Department.
The mix-up happened on social media via Snapchat and Facebook. Snapchat is an app where users can share pictures and videos for a limited amount of time. A Snapchat was sent out by one individual showing a phone number that was thought to be Lil Uzi's home phone number. It was seen around the country and then posted on Facebook.
"As you can imagine, it has gone nationwide," Sinden added.
The number given was not that of Lil Uzi. Instead, it was the non-emergency number to the Baraboo Police Department. Thousands of after-hour phone calls were coming in with only two dispatchers on duty.
Calls came in from all over the country. From Ohio to Kentucky, even as far as Texas. And dispatchers didn't take it lightly.
"When someone's playing on the telephone, it really puts a negative impact on our ability to do the job," said Stoddard.
She now worried about the real emergency calls that went unanswered.
"How many of those calls did we miss when this joke was going on," she wondered.
Authorities aren't sure if the police department's number was targeted or if it was just a mistake, but they do know one thing for sure.
"I can assure you it's not the telephone number for Lil Uzi," Sinden said as he chuckled.
That's why his department has changed the after-hour call system. Now, anyone who calls after 4:30 p.m. will be notified they have reached the Baraboo Police Department. Then, they will have a list of options to choose from, including reaching the dispatch center.
"Social media is great for us, but it has its detriments too," Sinden added.