Monterey Park FD Apologizes for Alerts Sent to SoCal Cellphones

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An emergency alert that sounded on cellphones across the Southland midday Wednesday came from the Monterey Park Fire Department, which apologized for the notification.

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An emergency alert that sounded on phones across Southern California on Wednesday was sent by the Los Angeles County Emergency Operations Center, authorities said. (Credit: KTLA)

The alert, which read “THIS IS ONLY A TEST,” was sent at 2:13 p.m. It appeared to have come from the Monterey Park Emergency Operations Center.

A police official with the Monterey Park Police Department and a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the city’s Fire Department had sent the alert.

“It wasn’t something sent out by police; it was sent out by fire,” police clerk Margaret Mkrtichian said.

Monterey Park Fire Department personnel were unaware of any plans to send the alert, the dispatcher initially told KTLA.

Later, the department apologized for the notification on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, which has its headquarters in an unincorporated area next to Monterey Park, was initially unclear on where the message originated. The Sheriff’s Department operates the county’s Emergency Operations Bureau in its headquarters.

“It wasn’t us. I don’t know who sent it,” Sgt. Richard Pena said. “It might have been our guys, but we’re still looking into it.”

Later, Deputy Tony Moore said the Sheriff’s Department had indeed determined that the Monterey Park Fire Department send the alert.

“We were able to track it down,” Moore said. “They’re working on trying to find out why the test was done.”

It was unclear how many people were reached by the alert.

In the KTLA newsroom, dozens of phones went off at the same time, all together sounding an alarming high-pitched tone.

Questions have been raised about the reach of the high-pitched emergency alert system after an early morning Amber Alert notification woke many California residents last August.

Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of a system developed by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to let local, state and federal agencies target users of some cellphone models by sending alerts through geographically specific cell towers, according to the FCC website.

KTLA’s Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.