Miscommunication causes Richmond police to lose 911 service for 12 hours

Power turned off at critical switch station

RICHMOND, Mich. – An entire police department in Metro Detroit lost connection to its 911 service for 12 hours due to a miscommunication between DTE Energy and another company, according to authorities.

The number of 911 calls to the Richmond Police Department varies depending on the day.

"You might have days where there's just a few calls and you have other days when it's ringing off the hook," said a dispatcher who didn't want to be identified.

But something was wrong Sept. 11.

"We were having problems with our 911 lines," Richmond police Chief David Teske said.

Teske said the entire city lost cell service, meaning there were no calls in or out of the police department.

"You don't realize how much you rely on your cellphones and landlines until they go down," Teske said.

Officials said the problem arose from the Frontier switch station down the road.

"Everything gets routed through there -- obviously all our landlines," Teske said.

DTE Energy had been sending several letters to the station, calling and visiting in an attempt to install a new meter.

"No one answers it because it's basically just a service building," Teske said.

DTE Energy cut power to the building.

"I don't know if they realized how important that switch station is," Teske said.

Richmond police had to use Macomb County's dispatch center as a backup for 12 hours.

"We were kind of listening to the radios," Teske said. "Obviously, that's our only form of communication to the outside world."

Now, police are trying to get in touch with DTE Energy officials to figure out what happened and make sure 911 service doesn't get interrupted again.

DTE Energy released the following statement:

"In following our AMI meter installation process, we attempted to make contact with the customer at least seven times. We first mailed three communications to the address on file, followed by two phone calls, and then two visits to the location. After no response to those attempts, – which included a shut-off notice – we continued to follow protocol by interrupting electric service to the customer.

"This location was not flagged in our system as one that provides a critical service. As soon as it was brought to our attention, we worked with the city to restore power as well as upgrade the meter.

"We encourage any customer who receives a communication from DTE regarding access or installation of an AMI meter to contact us immediately at 313-235-4009."

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