A spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said in a statement Sunday that the employee responsible for putting out a false alarm that Hawaii was facing a ballistic missile attack on Saturday has been “temporarily reassigned.”
The agency also said that it would conduct no more missile alert tests until it could fix the system, including creating a protocol to reverse an alert if it is issued in error.
Reuters reported that agency spokesman Richard Rapoza confirmed that the employee “has been temporarily reassigned” to other duties.
Rapoza said an internal investigation of the blunder would be completed by week’s end and that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency welcomed outside review by the Federal Communications Commission, which has jurisdiction over wireless U.S. alert systems.
Rapoza also said that no further drills of the emergency alert system would be conducted until new measures were put in place to reduce the chance of future false alarms and to swiftly withdraw any warnings sent in error.
Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Committee (FCC), said the alert, which was sent to phones across Hawaii at around 8 a.m. on Saturday and took almost 40 minutes to reverse, was “totally unacceptable.”
Pai said that the investigation into the incident was underway and that the evidence gathered so far shows that Hawaii did not have “reasonable safeguards” in place to prevent or reverse a false alert.
“Moving forward, we will focus on what steps need to be taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again,” Pai said in the statement. “Federal, state and local officials across the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what’s necessary to fix them.”
“We must also ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out,” Pai said.
Yesterday’s false emergency alert in #Hawaii caused panic across the state. False alerts also undermine public confidence in the alerting system when real emergencies occur. My statement on the @FCC investigation thus far: https://t.co/xtXJK8W6He pic.twitter.com/s9DJ2dU0ZT
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) January 14, 2018
President Donald Trump spoke to reporters about the Hawaii debacle at his golf club in Florida.
“Well, that was a state thing,” Trump said on Sunday. “We are going to now get involved with them; I love that they took responsibility.”
“They took total responsibility,” Trump said. “But we are going to get involved – their attitude, what they want to do, I think it’s terrific.”
“They took responsibility,” Trump said. “They made a mistake.”
“We hope that it won’t happen again,” Trump said.