AUSTIN -- Monday afternoon an Austin police helicopter flew overhead as police officers patrolled streets around town with their lights on. The increased, visible presence was the reaction to an unexpected system failure.
"This afternoon around 2 p.m. the Austin-Travis County 911 Call Center stopped receiving calls," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell in a news conference.
"When our 911 system goes down, we have a backup system that we roll over to. It appears as though the backup system was affected by the exact same outage that our primary system was affected by," said Austin Police Assistant Chief Brian Manley.
City Manager Marc Ott activated the Emergency Operations Center to monitor the outage while the system was being rebooted. The system was restored Monday at 7:46 p.m.
For nearly six hours Austin police calls were transferred to Round Rock P.D. Travis County Sheriff's Office calls were sent to Pflugerville. Fire and EMS calls went to the Williamson County Communications Center, and the city sent dispatchers to those locations to help with the increased call volume.
"Our dispatchers have the ability to communicate with the officers on the street. That was not interrupted by this outage. This is a 911 outage, not a communications outage," said Manley.
The Capitol Area Council of Governments owns the equipment for the 911 system. Officials aren't sure how the outage happened.
"My understanding is that has never happened before in the history of the City of Austin. So it's something that is going to be thoroughly investigated," said Leffingwell.