Hamptons Police Ban Cellphones, Provides Emergency Rotary Call Boxes Instead

Hampton Police Department rotary telephone emergency call box
HPD rotary call box, Photo: Aleksandra Duda/123RF

Citing worries about hacking, cybercrime and surveillance, authorities in the Hamptons announced the discontinuation of cellphone service in the area. They have ordered operators of cell towers to power the units off starting Wednesday, October 31.

“We realize this might be a slight inconvenience to some people,” acknowledged Horace Gumbach, the local chief cybercrime control official. “But this will make it almost impossible for computer criminals to victimize the local population. Not taking this step would be a dereliction of duty.”

Gumbach admits that locals and visitors alike have come to rely on their cellphones for use in emergencies. He notes that authorities had already developed an alternative. “Remember when all of the highways had emergency call boxes on them? We’re bringing them back.”

Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says the department has retrieved from storage hundreds of old emergency phones which they intend to install along local roadsides for the benefit of stranded motorists. “They’re perfectly good phones,” Hirsch adds. “Why not use them?”

One potential downside is that, according to Hirsch, many of the emergency phones feature rotary dials—a technology many people are no longer familiar with. He’s not worried, however. “We’re going to be running training workshops so that people can familiarize themselves with how these old phones operate. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.”

Contact the Hamptons Police Department for a schedule of upcoming workshops.

Read more tales from the Hamptons Police Blotter

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