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Cops' Facebook post on cable outage triggers viral reaction

Updated 2:26 pm, Monday, August 19, 2013
  • One Cablevision customer upset when their service went out Sunday night called 911 to report the outage, while others called the non-emergency number. Photo: Contributed Photo / Fairfield Citizen
    One Cablevision customer upset when their service went out Sunday night called 911 to report the outage, while others called the non-emergency number. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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A posting on the Police Department's Facebook page telling residents not to call the emergency 911 phone number during Sunday night's Cablevision outage has gone viral.

The website, Buzzfeed, picked up the posting, as did the Associated Press. And local television stations were showing up Monday morning at police headquarters on Reef Road to do an onsite report or calling for comment.

Just one problem. Although the posting mentioned "numerous" calls to the emergency line, a check on Monday morning by Sgt. Suzanne Lussier, the department's public information officer, turned up just one call to 911 about the outage. Lussier does not make the Facebook page postings for the department.

There were other calls made to the department's non-emergency line about the cable provider's lack of television on a Sunday night that featured a Red Sox-Yankees match-up, one of the last "Breaking Bad" episodes and pre-season football, but Chief Gary MacNamara said he did not know how many of those calls the department received.

"We wanted to get the message out that there early that the 911 line is not the proper number for people to call," MacNamara said, nor should they be calling the Police Department at all because they have no cable service.

Cablevision customers may have contacted police about the outage out of frustration after failing to get through to the cable service. At 9:30 p.m., a Fairfield customer trying to get in touch with Cablevision via an online chat was informed there would be about a 10-hour wait, with 1,200 people ahead of them.

"We understand people were frustrated, " MacNamara said, but reiterated that both the emergency and non-emergency phone lines at the Police Department should be used for police matters, not cable problems.

Cablevision customers lost their television, and in some cases Internet and phone service, when there was a "commercial power outage" at the company's Norwalk facility. It reportedly affected thousands of customers from Stamford to Milford.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost