OHIO - Seneca Still Plagued with Computer Glitch 911 Woes

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Seneca still plagued by 911 woes

June 5, 2000

TIFFIN - More than a year and a half after it was installed, Seneca County's 911 system remains plagued by a glitch that causes computers in the sheriff's department to shut down intermittently.

Technicians from Ameritech and GTE were called to the sheriff's dispatch center last week to try to resolve the trouble, Sheriff H. Weldin Neff said. Ameritech installed the circuits and GTE the communications system, which is shared by the Tiffin police department and the sheriff's office.

"Our dispatchers can be sitting at the desk, looking at the 911 screen, and all of a sudden, it logs itself off without any warning," the sheriff said. "Thankfully, we've never missed a 911 call because of it, but we need to get the system fixed before that happens."

The sheriff said the glitch has typically occurred "every couple of weeks" since the city-county system was installed in November, 1998. When that happens, he said, 911 calls are automatically routed to the Tiffin police.

"It does cause some delays," Sheriff Neff said. "The Tiffin dispatchers are not as familiar with the rural areas, so it takes them a little longer to handle the calls."

Tiffin police Chief Tom Steyer said his department has experienced no 911 outages, and he disputed the sheriff's assertion that the response to county 911 calls is slowed when the police dispatchers take them.

When his office receives 911 calls from outside Tiffin, dispatchers pass the information to the sheriff's department, the chief said.

"All we have to do is get an address. It comes up on the screen and we forward it to them," Chief Steyer said. "Why do we have to be familiar with the county?"

While the county outages have not caused any serious disruption in 911 service, the chief said the phone companies need to fix the problem.

"Someone should do something about it,'' he said. "We pay them a certain amount of money for maintenance."

Sheriff Neff said he expects the system to be fixed, but if repair efforts fail, a solution will be up to the county commissioners.

"At this point, it's kind of the responsibility of the agency providing the equipment to resolve the problem, and if they're unable to, I suppose we're going to have to go back to the commissioners, being that they're the funding agency, and see what they propose," he said.

Dan Stahl, the county's public safety administrator, said he hasn't been contacted lately about the 911 woes in the sheriff's department.

"The sheriff's office has been handling this problem," he said. "We haven't been informed of any of this recently. . . .

"I've asked the sheriff's contact person to contact me direct on this issue, and I have not talked to that person in quite some time. It's been at least a month,'' he said.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 05, 2000

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