Dallas officials now say abandoned calls were a source of 911 problems
City backs away from blaming ‘ghost calling’ glitch.
The city of Dallas has backed away from its claim that a T-Mobile “ghost calling” glitch had flooded the city’s 911 call center and resulted in hundreds of calls being placed on hold.
Authorities initially believed that T-Mobile phones were somehow inundating 911 with ghost calls, which were automatically generated by a phone unbeknownst to its owner.
But officials said Thursday that it was actually abandoned 911 calls that were a source of the problem.
Callers would hang up after dialing 911 and dispatchers were then obligated to return the call to determine whether there was an emergency. But that created a long backlog of calls.
Additional dispatchers will be added until changes can be implemented, including technological upgrades.
Officials have been criticized for delayed emergency responses that might have contributed to the deaths of two people.
Dallas resident David Taffet confronted Mayor Mike Rawlings at a news conference Wednesday to say it took 20 minutes to get through to 911 after his husband stopped breathing last week. At one point, Taffet was disconnected. He was placed on hold when he called back. Paramedics promptly arrived after he finally got through, but his husband later died at a hospital.
“I was just doing chest compressions on my husband, and the call just dropped. I had to call back,” said Taffet, who at one point asked of the mayor, “How many others died?”
Rawlings said he apologized to the mother of a 6-month-old child who died during the weekend after falling from a bed. The child’s baby sitter tried calling 911 three times but kept being placed on hold.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax said Wednesday that at one point last week the city had 360 calls on hold.
The city this week is increasing staffing levels at its 911 center and authorizing overtime shifts to ensure calls are being answered.
Rawlings said the problem means the city isn’t performing one of its core functions: ensuring people’s safety.
“As you can well imagine this situation is very frustrating,” he said, adding, “This is the No. 1 priority we’re facing right now as a city.”
A North Texas school district says that Attorney General Ken Paxton is raising unfounded concerns about religious freedom over a spare classroom where Muslim students pray.
Chris Moore is a spokesman for the Frisco school district near Dallas. He said Friday the room is available to “students of all walks of life.”
Muslim students at Liberty High School have been allowed since 2007 to pray in a classroom that’s vacant for part of the afternoon. School officials say the initiative has been a success and never attracted controversy.
But Paxton’s office sent a letter Friday raising questions about students of other faiths being excluded from using the room to pray. Paxton’s letter cited a story about the prayer room from the high school’s student-run news website.
Authorities say an off-duty state trooper was shot when he struggled with an intruder at the trooper’s home near San Antonio.
The unidentified trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety discovered someone in his yard late Thursday and retrieved his service weapon and put on a protective vest before confronting the intruder.
Authorities say the trooper was attacked as he went outside and the suspect tried to gain entry to the home in Kirby, northeast of San Antonio.
The trooper’s firearm discharged during the struggle and he was struck by the bullet, but protected by the vest.
He was taken to a hospital for observation.
The suspect fled the home on foot and authorities continue to search for him.
Mexican consular officials are investigating the hanging death of a West Texas jail inmate arrested for crossing the border illegally.
The El Paso Times reported that Norberto Santa Cruz died last Saturday after he was found hanging in the El Paso County Jail. Mexican Consul General Marcos Bucio of El Paso said Mexico’s government is pressing for information on what might have pushed the 42-year-old Juarez, Mexico, man to take his own life.
The U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement that Santa Cruz was arrested in trespassing in an El Paso rail yard and admitted to having entered the United States illegally by hopping a freight car. He was found hanged in his jail cell March 4 and was hospitalized. He was removed from life support Saturday.