911 reverse call delayed during suspect search

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A reverse 911 call meant to alert neighbors to an armed man suspected of shooting a Portland police officer and killing his K-9 partner was delayed by several hours Wednesday morning.

The shooting happened around 3 a.m. Officer Jeff Dorn was shot in both legs and his police dog, Mick, was mortally wounded.

LISTEN to the police message neighbors were supposed to hear:

The message that residents were meant to receive during the search stated the following: “There is an active tactical police incident involving an armed gunman in the neighborhood. Stay inside. Police are actively searching yards on foot. Call 911 to report any suspicious activity.”

Doug Reynolds, who lives on the Multnomah Village street where gunfire was exchanged, told KOIN 6 News he had already heard the shots and saw a suspect running from police before he received his reverse-911 alert.

“It was really the third call about an hour after the shooting that we got the message that there was an active manhunt,” said Reynolds.

Two calls that were pre-recorded test calls of the Emergency Management Communications System were put out prior to the actual alert, officials at the Bureau of Emergency Management said.

BOEC estimated the actual alert went out to many neighbors at least two hours after the shooting happened.

Portland’s Director of Emergency Management Carmen Menlo said the reverse 911 system is provided by First Call, which is based in Louisiana.

The system costs $83,000 per year.

Menlo said after the first wrong call went out, the city contacted First Call to fix the issue only to have a second wrong call go out again.

“We’ve certainly made contact with [First Call]. We’re asking for a complete auditing of what happened and certainly we’re going to be looking at alternate solutions up to and including a different vendor,” said Menlo.

First Call President Matthew Teague said the reason for the wrong calls was “a training issue and the person who initiated the message chose a message that was previously recorded.”

However, city officials said it is possible the system itself mixed up the messages.

Portland has used this system for the past four years and it has been reliable, officials said. But they also said there were issues two years ago with this same test alert going out.

City officials suggested anyone who owns a cellphone to sign up for text alerts at publicalerts.org.

KOIN 6 News continues to follow this story to learn the real reason behind the system’s delay.

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