By Shirin Rajaee

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A widespread service failure in the Sacramento area shut down non-emergency phone lines at a number of local law enforcement agencies for hours.

Community members with issues couldn’t get through to Sacramento Police through the non-emergency line.

RELATED: Sacramento Police App

The outage has the department reminding the public of a tool that is critical for residents to have in case this happens again, the Sac PD app. It’s been around for years, but many don’t even know it exists.

“Yesterday our lines were down, this is the perfect way of contacting the Sacramento Police Department,” said dispatcher Corina Tacardon.

Sacramento Police dispatchers say Monday’s technical issues had a big impact.

“Our non-emergency lines were down 12 hours yesterday, Even one hour would make a huge impact. During a typical day we get about 865 non-emergency calls, and yesterday we got 618, so there’s a difference of about 200 calls—200 community members who could not get through to us,” said Jena Swafford.

“We contacted AT&T and realized the problem was on their side,” said Lt. Andrew Scott with the Placer County Sheriff’s Department, another agency impacted.

While the phone lines were down, Tacordon says a few people knew to use the Sac PD App to make a report.

“We actually get it pretty quick, as if it was a phone call coming in,” she said.

The app allows users to report non-emergency issues, from drug or gang activity that’s not in progress, to neighborhood watch issues and more.

“You’re gonna wanna give us a description of what you’re seeing including anyone involved, you can upload a photo and once you hit submit that information is gonna go immediately to our commutation center,” said Swafford.

“It will give us what the incident is, if you want to be contacted or be anonymous,” said Tacardon.

And there are other features of the App that are useful, from reporting school-related issues directly to school administrators to reporting missing people cases.

“It’s very beneficial for people who are afraid, who don’t want to talk on the phone,  who can’t answer the phone. You can use it anywhere and report what you see and what you hear.

Check with your local law enforcement agencies to see if they have similar apps to this one.

CBS 13 reached out to AT&T for more details about the nature of the technical issue, and what’s being done to prevent it from happening again, but no response yet.

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