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Google creates confusion between two Fontanas

THIS IMAGE appears on the right hand side of the Internet browser after a Google search of "Fontana Police Department." The map, address and phone number all lead to the Fontana, Wis., Police Department, though it's under a headline for the California department.
August 13, 2013 | 11:26 AM
FONTANA — The famous search engine Google is helping the Fontana Police Department connect with residents.

Barb Dorsey, police administrative assistant, said she gets six to 10 calls every day from residents of Fontana, Calif.

The problem is Google's search results for "Fontana Police Department."

"When you search for Fontana Police Department, there's this posting," Chief Steve Olson said. "It says 'Fontana California Police Department,' but it shows a map of our village, a photo from our website and it shows our number."

Olson said the different area code doesn't faze callers. See page 2B for a screen shot.

"We have the California number posted up by our phones so we can tell them who to actually call," Dorsey said. "Thankfully, we haven't had someone call in an actual emergency." The area code for the Fontana, Calif., area is 909. Fontana, Wis., is 262.

"We get these calls all the time, some of them asking which jail someone who was arrested yesterday is in," he said. "What? Which jail? Then we ask them who they're trying to call."

They've tried to have the search posting changed, but Google isn't responding.

"We have called Google," Olson said. "They said they're working on it. They said it could take weeks for it to change. We never asked to have that posting. We have nothing to do with it. We just want the number to be for the correct department."

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Olson said he's spoken with the California department, and they laugh about it.

"They just got a helicopter at their department," he said. "I was joking and said, wouldn't that be nice to have. They actually sent me the whole proposal and what they did to get the helicopter. I don't think they realize how small we are compared to them."

The California city has a population of 199,028. The Wisconsin village has 1,678.

"We don't need a helicopter," Olson said. "We just need to stop getting calls from California."


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