Law officers' computers shut down (KS) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Kansas News

Friday, 17-Dec-99 10:08:25

Law officers' computers shut down

By ANDREA ALBRIGHT The Capital-Journal

Law enforcement officials across the state periodically experienced the sounds of silence Thursday while trying to use the state's new computer system to track down bad guys.

Sheriff's departments across the region reported problems with computers crashing and automatically shutting down.

Dave Lamberson, communications supervisor for Pottawatomie County, said his equipment had been unpredictable all day.

"It doesn't let you know when you're not on," he said. "It just logs you off, and then when you try to run a tag it tells you you're logged off."

A Jefferson County dispatcher also said he had been out of touch most of the day.

"We have no communication with any other department other than phones," he said. "We can't run tags or anything like that. It's been up and down all day."

The computer system, known as the ASTRA Network, has been in place in all 105 counties since July. A database that is maintained through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation allows law enforcement officials even in the most remote regions to have access to uniform information across Kansas.

Chuck Sexson, KBI assistant director in charge of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, said the statewide telecommunications system included access to information about warrants and stolen property. Departments also can send and receive information from other agencies.

Sexson said changes made by the vendor, a new software installation and system maintenance brought the system down Thursday.

"Sometimes that happens," he said. "It's just a part of completing the new install."

Nemaha County Sheriff Butch Clark said bugs had periodically shut down the system since it was installed in his department about a year ago, but he said the problems had been much worse in his county for the past three days.

"We've had a couple instances today when we couldn't get the registration on a vehicle or identification on a person," he said. "We're just unable to until they fix whatever needs to be fixed there in Topeka."

Lamberson said as long as deputies in Pottawatomie County were unable to access complete reports, he was concerned about their well-being, but he said he wasn't too concerned that many wanted criminals were getting away.

"It's kind of an officer safety issue," Lamberson said. "We do check our local warrants, but in my dealings we don't come across that many people who are wanted on a nationwide warrant."

Sexson said the problems were corrected by 3 p.m. Thursday. He also said the problems weren't a clue as to how the system would perform on New Year's Eve.

"It didn't blow up because of Y2K," he said. "It's the latest and greatest technology. Occasionally it goes down because we're still building, but it's a good system."

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 17, 1999


Missed you yesterday, Homer!

Lotsa new systems slamming in these days ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, December 17, 1999.

This is an example of the increasing 'noise' level in systems. I think the police and small local organisations will have an easier time muddling through than large concerns- which is the opposite of the conventional wisdom.

Any police or sherrif's officer who has been in one place for a while has a pretty good idea who is naughty and who is nice, especially in small towns. Most of the calls they handle concern local situations and offenders they already know, the 'usual suspects' etc. Here where I live, I have no doubt the law will do just fine with simplex radios and no computers. The last few times I have been stopped for burnt out lights or expired safety stickers (I'm a disorganised person) the officer knew me by name.

I would be more concerned with fire and EMT because they don't patrol, they are call-in services, and they depend more on high tech equipment than on street smarts. This is especially a worry out here in the sticks, so I will be setting up a cb/ham station to assist in getting them the word if need be.

Preparation defeats fear.

-- Forrest Covington (, December 17, 1999.

I was monitoring the scanner yesterday here and Rusk Co. Tx., which provides tag and other computer info to all local police depts was also down. They were unable to check liscence registrations for the entire day.

-- Nikoli Krushev (, December 17, 1999.

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