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9-1-1 Was a Joke in This Town (But Only for a Few Hours)

Dialing 9-1-1 is supposed to be a foolproof system for summoning law enforcement or medical help in times of urgent physical need or danger. And the beauty of it is, it can be accessed through any phone line – except this morning on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police emailed around an internal memo this morning informing the community that “due to scheduled maintenance of the U.S. Capitol Telephone Service, the emergency 911 phone line will be temporarily disabled until further notice.”

That alert was sent out shortly before 9:30 a.m. By 1:30 p.m., things were back up and running.

Turns out, the Senate side of the Capitol was the only area affected by the maintenance work. Still, if the Capitol is meant to be a fortress of safety, what happens when the No. 1 safety call number is not operational?

Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said that while temporarily disabling the 911 function on Capitol Hill is extremely rare, nobody’s well being was at risk during the service break.

“The ability to reach the USCP to report emergencies is always available and staff were provided with an alternative number to our dispatchers,” Schneider said. “This is exactly the same location they’d reach if they dialed 911 from an office phone only. Or they can contact a nearby USCP officer … or call the detail office and the USCP will respond.”

HOH likes to give back to the community, so as a public service for Capitol Hill readers, Capitol Police can always be reached at 202-224-5151.

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