Dal­las of­fi­cials now say aban­doned calls were a source of 911 prob­lems

City backs away from blam­ing ‘ghost calling’ glitch.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

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.

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