- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Montgomery County police officers were nearly incommunicado this week when the radio communications system at the Emergency Communications Center failed for 43 minutes, a police spokeswoman said.
Radio communications were down all over the county from 9:20 to 10:03 Monday night and police officers were dispatched for service by communications and police field supervisors. The police supervisors immediately implemented a plan to dispatch emergency 911 calls via the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems at the county's six district police stations, said police officials.
"Police response to emergency calls for service occurred without interruption," Officer Joyce Utter said. "However, it could not be determined whether dispatches were received late or whether officers arrived late because radio check-ins remained a problem."
The Washington Times learned that police response to some emergency calls was delayed for more than an hour.
One Gaithersburg resident, who declined to be named, said she waited for 40 minutes before calling a second time, and was told that the officers would explain the delay. "The officers didn't arrive for another 45 minutes to an hour," she said.
"It depended on the type of emergency," Officer Utter said.
Crimes such as home burglaries for which officers need to file a report, noise complaints or vandalism were given less priority, and officers were dispatched in the order calls came in.
"But robberies in progress or accidents where someone was hurt — officers were immediately dispatched," said police officials.
Although the system was down for a little less than an hour, radio technicians have been unable to determine as yet what caused the failure. "They got the computer up and running after rebooting the system, and it has worked fine since then," she said.
For the next few days, police technicians will conduct system diagnostics to ensure there are no mechanical problems, and also will run a series of software checks to try and find the cause of the shutdown.
Police Chief Charles Moose commended the work of his staff during the radio blackout.
"These employees never missed a beat … . Their actions, under challenging circumstances, epitomized the true meaning of professionalism and problem-solving," said Chief Moose.

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