Police hindered by cruiser computer glitch

Posted Jan. 13, 2009, at 9:10 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:53 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Some police officers in Hancock County had to do things the old-fashioned way Tuesday when a computer glitch shut down the computers in their cruisers.

“It’s a big problem,” said Lt. Harold Page of the Ellsworth Police Department. “The computers don’t work at all.”

Officers still had access to information using radios, but spent most of the day without the use of their on-board computers. The problem affected the mobile computers in Ellsworth, Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro and at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Jason Ingalls, the technology systems administrator for Ellsworth, the problem originated with an upgrade of the computer system at the state level. The state was working with AT&T to increase the number of addresses in its system from 250 to 1,000.

“They did that overnight,” Ingalls said. “But the router at the courthouse was not configured to allow those addresses through.”

The courthouse router serves the Sheriff’s Department and the three police departments in Ellsworth, Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro.

The on-board computers give officers access to computerized state motor vehicle records and also allow them to enter information on incident reports in their cruisers. While the computer problem was an inconvenience, Ingalls said, it did not compromise public safety.

“This was not a life safety issue,” he said. “There were no issues with the dispatch computers.”

The dispatch computers at the Hancock County Regional Communications Center and at the Ellsworth police station, including the emergency 911 lines, run on a different system.

By late Tuesday afternoon, there appeared to be some progress in reconfiguring the local router.

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