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August 31, 2007
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Dallas dispatch system goes offline for 30 mins

By Tanya Eiserer
The Dallas Morning News 
Related: Dallas first responders struggle with new dispatch system
DALLAS Dallas' new $6.5 million dispatch system went offline for at least 30 minutes Thursday morning, forcing police to revert to an old-fashioned method of sending police and firefighters to emergency calls.

Officials said the problem arose because of an error by a technician who was working on the system.

"It was human error," said Worris Levine, head of the city's communications and information services department.

While the system was offline, 911 operators wrote information on cards. Runners took those cards to police and fire dispatchers, who then sent out emergency workers.

The computer-aided dispatch system went online Aug. 22 to replace a 30-year-old mainframe. The software is used for sending emergency workers where they are needed, monitoring their locations, and processing reports that police officers file on their in-car computers.

Officials insist that the dispatch system has worked the way it was intended and that most of the technical difficulties aren't directly related to it, but instead are coincidental.

Among the problems: Some officers were having trouble checking to see whether suspects have outstanding arrest warrants, and others have had trouble filing reports on their in-car computers.

"I don't know what's broken, but I'd like it all fixed," said Senior Cpl. Chris Wagner, who works on a crack house action team in the southwest patrol division. "People are still doing their jobs, but it's just slowed down our work."

Copyright 2007 The Dallas Morning News

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