Santa Monica’s 9-1-1 system was disabled this week by a utility company’s as yet unknown error.
Frontier Communications is responsible for the disruption, but the exact cause remains under investigation according to City Hall. Calls to a Frontier spokesperson were not returned by press time.
The Santa Monica Police Department alerted residents to the outage at 9:20 p.m. on Monday. About an hour later the system was updated to handle 9-1-1 calls from some landlines and text services. However, service was not fully restored until 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
In a statement, officials advised everyone in Santa Monica that some 9-1-1 calls were experiencing routing issues and may not successfully connect to Santa Monica dispatch. The problem impacted both cellular and landlines in the area.
Landline and Verizon cell service customers calling 9-1-1 experienced their call being answered by another dispatch office. AT&T and T-Mobile cell service customers experienced a busy tone. Callers in proximity to nearby freeways may have had their calls routed to CHP who then forwarded information to SMPD.
“Santa Monica has a multi-departmental response team that is supporting the work of technology and regional public safety partners as they work to resolve the root cause of the disruption as quickly as possible,” said Public Information Officer Constance Farrell in a statement.
The City has an emergency procedure and contingency plans in the event of phone line disruptions and the City’s non-emergency public safety lines functioned throughout the incident without interruption. As soon as the 9-1-1 phone disruption was identified, the phone lines were immediately switched to the City’s secondary public safety answering point. The secondary public safety answering point initially experienced challenges with cell phone carriers, but that issue was resolved.
During the disruption, the City’s public safety communications center managed 427 9-1-1 calls. In 2019, a year that has seen similar public safety call volume, during the same time period, public safety communications handled 432 calls. SMPD and SMFD actively responded to calls for service throughout the disruption, responding to 185 total incidents. SMPD patrolled business districts and neighborhoods as an additional precaution.
Residents can call SMPD dispatch directly at (310) 458-8491 or text 9-1-1.