News10NBC Investigates: Bomb scare 911 warning reveals glitch in the system

Berkeley Brean
Updated: February 28, 2020 06:40 PM
Created: February 28, 2020 06:34 PM

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — A bomb scare at Rochester's federal building may have exposed a bug in the area's 911 system. 

The incident forced a lockdown for parts of downtown Rochester Thursday


The 911 center sent out a recorded message to nearby offices and apartments telling people to lock their doors and stay inside. 

Friday, News10NBC discovered a glitch in the call and a separate mistake that left people hanging. 

As the bomb squad arrived at the federal building downtown Thursday afternoon, a 911 warning message got sent to hundreds of phones in the area. 

One came to the real estate office of Bob Miglioratti.

"These doors were locked first," Miglioratti said walking to the front door of his building.

Miglioratti says his staff ran to lock the doors and then they huddled in the middle of the building.

"The first 15 minutes to 30 minutes was, there was some fright. There was some concern," he said. 

This is the start of the message Miglioratti's office got: "This is 911. The police are investigating an incident in your area. You are asked to stay indoors and stay away from doors and windows."

Here's the issue.

The real estate office is near 12 Corners in Brighton, five miles from the federal building. Brighton Police told me it had no incident Thursday.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "How long did you shelter in place?"

Bob Miglioratti, ReMax Plus, Monroe Avenue Brighton: "Couple of hours before we started making phone calls to find out what else is going on."

Miglioratti's staff got so concerned one of them texted me at 1:51 p.m. and asked if there was an "Active shooter in Brighton?"

I contacted City Hall, which oversees the 911 center. 

How did this happen, I asked?

The head of communications for the city, Justin Roj said the "911 center is working with the vendor of the hyper reach system to determine the cause of the call."

In an email at 4:38 p.m. Thursday, Rochester Police said the scene at the federal building was clear.

Here is the promise the 911 warning gives: "You will be notified when the incident is resolved."

Brean: "Did you ever get a call saying it's all clear, go back to your regular business?"

Miglioratti: "No. My opinion, I'm not a tech guy, it should have been just as easy to make that second phone call that wound down the situation as it was to make the first phone call that got us all wired up."

Miglioratti is right. That follow up call should have happened and no one, not even people around the federal building got the all-clear.

Justin Roj said that was a mistake by 911. Roj said the head of 911 put in more of what he called redundancies Friday to make sure that mistake doesn't happen again.

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