Dispatch issues plaguing Delaware County under investigation

LIMA, Pa. (WPVI) -- Action News is learning new details about the emergency communication failures plaguing Delaware County.

The system went down on Friday, just as Folcroft officers were desperately trying to get help for Officer Christopher Dorman.

Now, county leaders are trying to make sure the issue doesn't happen again.

"What we are receiving back from our 911 personnel is that the computer basically went down," Delaware County Council Chair Mario Civera said Monday.

According to a county timeline at 9:56:12 Friday Morning Folcroft units were dispatched on the drug activity call from the communications console in the 911 center in Lima.

Sometime in the next 2:32 seconds that console somehow shut down without alerting its operator, Civera says.

"There was no indication whatsoever, he didn't realize the console was rebooting itself, it didn't indicate it, there was no light, there was no signal," Civera said.

At 9:58:44, when Folcroft officers including Christopher Dorman arrived at Elmwood Avenue, their calls including the one where Dorman shouted 'I'm shot in the face,' were never heard at the 911 Center.

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Listen to the radio call from the Folcroft police shooting.

Only when reports came in from an adjacent sector did the console operator understand his unit was malfunctioning, he then jumped to another console.

"We're talking about a person who has 20 years of service, very high tech guy, he knows his job, good on his feet, and was very, very distraught," Civera said.

This new console replaced older units only about six weeks ago with a price tag about $800,000.

An independent investigation has been ordered into Friday's shutdown.

"We need to have answers. This cannot happen again," Civera said.

Another incident happened over the weekend where officers in Darby Borough could not communicate using their handheld devices.

That, we are told, has to do with atmospheric conditions and a powerful TV signal from a station in Boston that sometimes jams those handhelds. It happens throughout the East Coast and they are planning on a workaround. But this is not connected to the console situation in Lima.

Both incidents however remain under investigation.
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