January 10, 2006

Sprint regrets refusal to aid missing baby hunt

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California county decided on
Tuesday not to slap a moratorium on new cellular towers when
Sprint vowed to review emergency procedures after an operator
refused last month to use its GPS to help find a missing boy.

The company vowed to review procedures with local police
and said it regretted what it called an isolated incident after
a company representative refused to allow police in Riverside
County, east of Los Angeles, to use its global positioning
system to search for the missing baby.

The moratorium was threatened after an SUV with a
10-month-old baby strapped in the back seat and a Sprint
cellphone inside was stolen from a Riverside home.

A Sprint operator declined to provide Riverside police with
global positioning system coordinates, that would have helped
locate the car and the child, without first getting a subpoena.

As a result of the company promise, Riverside officials
decided not to impose a moratorium on permits for new Sprint
cellular phone towers.

The child was found unharmed in the car some two hours
later without the GPS data.

"We do have policies in place for this kind of situation
and usually it works very well in a few minutes. Law
enforcement has a special number to call and they have to fill
out a very simple form that they fax back to us," said Sprint
spokeswoman Kathleen Dunleavy.

"Unfortunately something went wrong with that process in
this situation," she said.

Dunleavy said Sprint executives had agreed with the
Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to investigate
the incident and see what changes could be made to improve
procedures in such cases.