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‘Dial 511’: Department of Public Safety explains what went wrong with Wednesday night’s Amber Alert

Local (Utah/State News)

TAYLORSVILLE (ABC4 News) – The Utah Department of Public Safety is trying to figure out glitches in their Amber Alert system after problems with the last two alerts that have been alarming. 

 On September 26th, the alert system sent out a cellphone notification reading “gry Toyt,” a baffling shorthand description of the suspect’s vehicle. Some also found Wednesday night’s message “Call 511” cryptic.

“It was cryptic. It didn’t have any information,” Amara Ricord told ABC4 News, adding that she did not call the number. “No, I went on social media. I can find things out faster that way.”

On Thursday, Marissa Cote, the Public Affairs Director for the DPS, explained what happened.

“What we discovered this morning was the ‘Call 511’ message was issued because in the system a vehicle description was not listed,” Cote said. “So, unfortunately, it is a default message that is sent out when there is no vehicle description sent.”

To make matters worse, everyone dialing at once overwhelmed the phone system.

“Unfortunately, when people did call 511 they either did get a busy signal or nothing at all,” Cote said. “I was one of them. I got a busy signal for quite some time.” 

Despite the problems, Cote says Utah’s Amber Alert system is one of the best in the nation and they’ll get these glitches worked out.

“It’s not OK that the information does not go out there appropriately. There’s a child at the other end whose life is at stake here,” she said. “We’re going to fix what didn’t go well. It’s important that we’re getting that information out there.” 

Department of Public Safety officials say they will thoroughly review this incident to make sure this kind of confusion doesn’t happen again in the future.

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