Detroit Police Chief addresses radio dispatch issues affecting police, fire and EMS

DETROIT (WXYZ) - "We are down," said one dispatcher. "I think you guys can hear us, but we can't  hear you." Detroit Police dispatchers could be heard telling officers to be careful when the city's emergency radio system failed for the second time in two months.

Early Tuesday evening, the problem continued to affect police, fire and EMS units in the city of Detroit.

Crews are having to use their cell phones to call dispatchers after technical issues started around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

At times, emergency crews are able to hear dispatchers on their radios, but cannot communicate back to them. Sources also say there are periods when the system appears to be completely down.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig addressed the radio dispatch outages, calling them "sporadic."

The Chief told reporters that it appears "corrupted data" entered the communications system during an upgrade by Motorola. Motorola is the vendor and is paid to maintain the system.

911 service was never affected, according to Chief Craig. He also said that the system went down entirely for about 15 minutes in the overnight hours.

Technicians are trying to find the exact cause and are working to repair the system.

"We are attentive to things that are broken. We are in the process of fixing them," said Chief Craig.

Dispatchers apparently switched to a system run by state police for a short time to help alleviate the problem.

Sporadic outages are continuing. No word from Motorola or DPD on when the issues will be resolved.

A spokesman for Motorola tells 7 Action News that this latest problem is not related to last month's system failure that caused headaches for the police department.

Tuesday afternoon, Motorola released the following statement:

The Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) and Motorola Solutions are working jointly to identify and resolve an apparent software issue that impacted some public safety radio voice communications in the City of Detroit for about 15 minutes early Tuesday. All 10 Antenna sites and all 30 radio channels on the Detroit system are operating and are also being supported by some backup sites on the MPSCS. This issue is not related to one that impacted the Detroit system last month.

The Detroit Police Department issued the following statement:

Earlier this morning, August 20, 2013, at approximately 1:50 a.m., an unknown issue caused data corruption problems within our communications system, which did not cause a total outage, but impaired our overall communications capabilities.  Some of the dispatching communications channels were disrupted for approximately 15 minutes, where the Dispatchers could not communicate with the officers, but the officers could communicate with the Dispatchers.  After 15 minutes, those affected communications became sporadic.  The State of Michiganwas contacted and provided services that allowed communications between the affected Dispatchers and Officers.  Dispatchers were still able to broadcast priority 1 (Emergency Runs). There were no known injuries or other hazardous incidents to the public as a result of this situation.

It should be emphasized that this incident was completely different from the situation that occurred on July 5, 2013, in which all radio communication capabilities were completely lost.  During this incident, communications capabilities were impaired and were never totally lost.

The DPD's affected communications system is currently operational, but remains sporadic.  This matter is still being investigated by Motorola and the Department to determine the actually cause of this issue.


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