Breaking News
More () »

Internal review unable to pinpoint why Jeffco emergency alert went to 160k people

Jeffcom 911 said they've ruled out human error, and were unable to find any system failures that led to the notification being distributed so widely.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — An internal review was unable to determine why an emergency alert intended for a few dozen people in Lakewood was sent to more than 160,000 devices in Jefferson County last month.

Jeffcom 911 said they worked with the alert vendor, Rave Mobile Safety, to investigate the incident, which happened Dec. 18. Jeffcom 911 said Thursday that they'd ruled out human error and were unable to find any system failures that led to the notification being distributed so widely.

> Video above from Dec. 20: Emergency alert mistakenly sent to 398,000 phones before dispatcher cancelled it 

Jeffcom 911 said the investigation included "in-depth reviews of system logs and performance data, review of existing protocols and operational procedures, and several attempts to replicate the conditions that led to the undesired outcome."

"Ultimately, human error was ruled out as a cause and all efforts were exhausted without identifying a system technical failure that led to the notification that was sent to 160,000 residents before the alert could be cancelled," Jeffcom 911 said in a news release. 

The emergency alert sent out around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 18 was supposed to go out to just 40 phones connected with an apartment complex in Lakewood. Instead, more than 160,000 phones started ringing shortly after midnight, telling people across the county to shelter in place.

"The first issue occurred when the alert author crafted an alert and completed the steps necessary to apply a geographic filter to target the distribution to a specific area," Rave's findings say. "However, it was verified that the intended geographic filter was not applied, resulting in a wider distribution of the alert than intended. After a thorough investigation in collaboration with Jeffcom, Rave was unable to reproduce this issue using the steps the alert author described. Additionally, Rave has neither observed nor been made aware of a similar incident and will continue to work diligently with Jeffcom to ensure this was an isolated issue."

The investigation also looked into why the caller ID on some phones showed the alert as coming from Greece. Rave said that issue "occurred further downstream on the carrier side."

Jeffcom 911 said only some carriers had the issue, but they were unable to provide a list of specific carriers affected.

"Regarding the display of an incorrect caller ID, following extensive log review on both Rave's part and on the part of the primary downstream voice provider utilized for this alert by Rave systems, we have confirmed that the caller ID was configured correctly when leaving both systems," Rave's review said. "The Rave system configured the call as +1-303 (country code and area code) when submitting the alert to the voice provider and the voice provider formatted the call as the same, using the appropriate e.164 format with the correct +1303 coding that was required. This issue appears to have occurred further downstream on the carrier side – outside of Rave’s infrastructure – and can, therefore, not be investigated further by Rave."

Jeffcom 911 said they have "implemented additional administrative oversight measures" to reduce the chances of repeating the incident, including dual authentication and additional checklist items prior to sending alerts.

They said since the incident, they have transmitted 20 emergency alerts without issue.

Jeffcom 911 is under contract with Rave until November 2026, and said they "have complete confidence with RAVE and this alerting product and have no intention of leaving this partnership at this time."


Before You Leave, Check This Out