|Detroit Police Squad Car - Photo by Frank Nemecek|
According to multiple sources within the Detroit Police and Fire Departments, the emergency dispatching system that is used to deploy police officers, fire fighters, and ambulances where they are needed has been inoperable since approximately 5:30 this morning. Ambulances in Detroit are being dispatched to treat medical emergencies via the personal cell phones that most paramedics carry with them. It's not clear how police emergencies are being dispatched.
To say that this is a troubling failure is an understatement.
More on this situation as it develops.
Update @ 12:26 p.m.
WDIV-TV is reporting that this is the result of a "hardware issue" that cause all of the radios used by the Detroit Police and Fire Departments to fail. They have reportedly had limited success by tapping into the radio system used by the Michigan State Police. In the meantime, the personal cell phones of police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs are being used to communicate with dispatchers.
Additional updates will happen as more information becomes available.
Update @ 3:17 p.m.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that approximately 80% of the city's dispatch system has been restored. They are also reporting that the "hardware issue" previously reported was an equipment failure with emergency radios that, according to police officials they spoke with, had not been inspected in two years.
That's right: the equipment that Detroit uses to dispatch police, fire, and EMS had not been inspected in two years - and broke down this morning, forcing everyone to rely on their personal cell phones to get everything done. I'll let that thought rattle around in everyone's brain for a moment before you think about the summer property tax bills that are due next month.
Chief James Craig, the new chief of the Detroit Police Department who started work this past Monday, has pledged accountability in this incident. We will see for certain, in the coming days and weeks, if his promise holds any validity.