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Oakland’s 911 system glitches a second time in less than 2 days

Oakland Police Department officers sit in a patrol car in Oakland Chinatown on Feb. 21, 2023. | Paul Kuroda for The Standard

After crashing Thursday night, Oakland’s 911 system glitched Saturday morning, forcing dispatchers to take emergency calls manually, according to officials.

“Around 8 a.m. Saturday morning the automated dispatching system that supports dispatch staff routing calls was impacted, and those dispatch staff temporarily shifted to routing calls manually,” Oakland officials announced on social media. “That automated system was restored shortly before 11am and is now functioning as normal.”

The system initially went down Thursday afternoon after a backup power generator failed during a power outage. The Oakland Police Officers’ Association blasted the system failure on Friday as something it warned the city and Mayor Sheng Thao would happen due to budget cuts that impacted public safety positions.

“Two weeks ago the Alameda County Grand Jury warned that Oakland’s 911 system was facing imminent collapse—yesterday it happened,” a police union press release said.

City Councilmember at Large Rebecca Kaplan pushed back at the assertion by the police union.

“According to the Grand Jury report, even after the council voted to fund more 911 dispatcher positions, [Oakland Police Department] declined to hire these civilian roles, by telling [the] hiring team not to prioritize them,” Kaplan wrote.

Thao opposed the idea that the city divested from those positions, pointing to $9.5 million investment over two years she supported as a councilmember in an amendment to the last budget, according to a news release.

“Unfortunately, we are again seeing the byproduct of decades of underinvestment in the City’s IT infrastructure,” Thao said. “We have inherited serious deficiencies in our IT infrastructure but my administration is committed to doing the work to ensure Oaklanders have secure services. And we will work with any party that joins us in that commitment.”

Barry Donelan, the police union’s president, told The Standard on Saturday that Kaplan’s answer to everything is to blame the police.

“She fails to mention that this is a city IT issue brought to us by the same folks who conducted the failed response to the ransomware attack and previous data breach,” Donelan said.