Detroit police, fire, EMS hit with early morning radio outage

Department spokeswoman says cellphones being used, 911 calls not affected

By Halston Herrera - Digital news editor

DETROIT - Detroit Police Chief James Craig said a faulty backup system is to blame for leaving the department, fire and EMS without any way to communicate with each other early Friday morning.

Craig said the department is getting by with the help of the Michigan State Police -- they've tapped into their towers -- and are able to handle priority calls and working on reducing their backlog.

--Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Craig defined a priority call as any violent crime in progress.

911 calls were never affected, but the problem kept most police officers in-house and off the streets.

"Without the officers having their radios we actually had to pair them up, because if they got out there and got in trouble then they wouldn't be able to communicate via radio," said Commander Todd Bettison.

Some officers used personal cellphones to keep in contact with dispatchers.

Craig said there have also been conversations with Verizon in case they need additional communication help.

"This should not have happened," Craig said.

He blamed a lack in accountability for doing preventative maintenance on the system. He said the department has a maintenance agreement with Motorola to check all systems regularly.

Motorola spokesman Tony Coppa said the root cause of the problem was still being investigated but that the health of the system is routinely checked.

A time table before the system was back up wasn't given.

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