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Hazel Park

January 13, 2014

Police arrest man for multiple vulgar phone calls

Suspect reportedly used emergency line to say obscenities

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

HAZEL PARK — Hazel Park police have tracked down and arrested a man they believe was spamming the 911 emergency line with prank calls full of obscenities, apparently out of anger from a prior run-in with the police.

Now, James Hinton, 54, formerly of Hazel Park, faces a charge of misusing 911, which is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

At press time, his pretrial hearing was set for Hazel Park 43rd District Court Jan. 9. He was being held on $2,200 cash bond or surety. 

“The calls were coming in on 911, which obviously takes priority over calls that don’t come in on the emergency line, so they were answered expeditiously,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner. “Mr. Hinton was making statements to the nature of us performing sex acts on him. Each call averaged a few seconds each.”

Police believe Hinton was angry about being arrested and ticketed for the theft of a lawnmower in Hazel Park Dec. 4, a misdemeanor offense of larceny less than $200. Around that time, the police started receiving the calls filled with obscenities.

At first, they tried to ignore the calls, but the problem continued for a week, at which point the police said enough is enough.

An investigation was undertaken, tracing the source to two cellphones, both of which were in a motel room occupied by Hinton. The room was in the Select Inn motel, in the area of Nine Mile and Dequindre in Warren, just east of Hazel Park.

Police got consent to search the motel and found the two cellphones hidden under the mattress. Hinton allegedly denied knowing about the two phones.

“Surprise would be the word,” said Barner, describing Hinton’s reaction. “He was the only occupant of that room, and it was obviously his voice recognizable as the one making the calls.

“Now, it’s not uncommon for police to receive calls on the emergency line that are not true emergencies. However, with this particular incident, the individual began to interfere with the operations of the police department by making excessive and repeated calls,” Barner said. “Emergency lines should only be used for true emergencies, where life or property may be in danger.”