A broken water pipe in a Verizon central office in Selden knocked out phone service to about 22,000 customers in Suffolk County on Monday -- including the Suffolk County Police Department's Sixth Precinct -- a phone company spokesman told Newsday.

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said customers in Selden, Centereach, Coram and Farmingville were affected by the outage, which occurred shortly after midnight.

Law enforcement officials are advising anyone in the area who needs to report an emergency to dial 911 on their cell phones. Anyone needing to contact the Sixth Precinct is being advised to go to the precinct, at 400 Route 25, Selden.

Bonomo said it is unclear how long the situation will take to resolve, but emergency crews are working to restore service and replacement equipment is being obtained.

"It's a water pipe that burst inside the Selden central office," Bonomo said of the cause of the outage. "You can imagine that water and our electronic switches don't mix."

In simple terms, Bonomo said, when a customer places a call it goes to a local central office, which "recognizes where your call wants to go" and then connects it to the local central office in the destination location.