Channahon Police Chief Jeff Wold Says Computer Equipment in Dispatch System is Faulty, Puts Officers at Risk at WESCOM in Will County


Channahon police chief criticizes dispatch system; others in Will County agree.

Channahon Police Chief Jeff Wold recently stated that his officers responded to a well-being check that turned out to be a “man with a knife” call. Chief Wold explained to CBS 2 Chicago reporter Suzanne Le Mignot that police officers didn’t get the updated information because a computer froze at WESCOM’s dispatch center. Other emergency personnel and chiefs are also critical of the dispatch system that WESCOM uses — Motorola Premier One.

According to Motorola’s website …

“PremierOne™ CAD helps agencies improve response times, efficiently allocate resources and better inform first responders. PremierOne CAD, a dynamic and intuitive application, utilizes its common services platform to compile and display precise data specific to an agency’s workflow.

Its highly customizable user interface offers quick access to information via a true location-based, GIS-data map. This powerful GPS-aided resource management tool displays the pinpoint location and identity of mobile units—enabling a more efficient and coordinated response.

PremierOne CAD delivers real-time information into the hands of those who need it most to make better decisions for better outcomes.”

An investigation into the failed communication with the “man with a knife” call discovered that the call taker entered the updated information in a computer, but the dispatcher’s computer froze, and didn’t display the updated information.

“It has been terrible. I’ve only had it work one day this month where I could actually use it — one day. It’s a terrible product. It needs to go. I would like to see the board take action, roll us back to what we had so we don’t hurt somebody.”

— Steve Engledow, New Lenox Fire Protection District Fire Chief

Northwest Central Dispatch System (NWCDS), which covers 9-1-1 communications for Arlington Heights and neighboring northwest suburban communities, also had similar problems with frozen computer screens, In fact, there is an unconfirmed report that a computer screen froze up in July 2013, when Henry Laseke called 9-1-1 from his sinking Cadillac SUV in an Arlington Heights pond. The dispatcher apparently failed to switch to a paper handbook to follow Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) instructions. The man’s SUV sank with him inside, and he drowned. The dispatcher and NWCDS, which had touted their Emergency Medical Dispatch protocol on their website, failed to give the man instructions to immediately get out of his vehicle. Instead the dispatcher focused on rudely, and repeatedly, asking the address of the pond. An inquiry of the incident blamed the dispatcher for “not entering the proper codes” in the system — a strange protocol since there is no security that would be required to give a person instructions on how to get out of a sinking vehicle. In fact, the requirement to enter codes is a human factors design failure at the dispatch center. A simple menu command should have been implemented in the EMD procedures — no codes required.

Arlington Heights Police Chief Gerald Mourning promised an internal investigation of the incident, but never released the results of the the investigation to the public. In fact, he instructed police officers not to talk about the results of the investigation, according to one police officer, who did not reveal the results and wanted to remain unnamed.

Similar to the WESCOM system, police officers in the northwest suburbs had trouble logging on to their new system. Their initial solution was to never turn off their squad cars, so they would never have to re-log on. The previous system would log in automatically.

Like WESCOM, Northwest Central Dispatch System had calls fail to make it from the call taker to the dispatcher. In one incident, the 9-1-1 dispatch for a man with a heart attack in Palatine was delayed for several minutes. Fortunately, he didn’t die. In some cases, calls were showing up on computers in the wrong town. Schaumburg, for example, received and Arlington Heights fire call on their vehicle computer.

The technical problems at NWCDS were so bad that employees of NWCDS gave a no-confidence vote to their organization in July 2012. The NWCDS executive committee did not act on the no-confidence vote, and concluded that they had confidence in the system and the managers at Northwest Central Dispatch System. But in the same meeting in July 2012, the executive committee decided their system was not working well enough to move forward with a study to consider the possible addition of Des Plaines Fire Department and Park Ridge Fire Department into the NWCDS 9-1-1 Center. Committee members even joked about whether they should tell Des Plaines and Park Ridge about the problems they were having at the July 2012 meeting. They weren’t seriously considering inviting them in for the feasibility study while omitting telling them about the problems. Des Plaines and Park Ridge fire communications were added to RED Center in Northbrook, which handles 9-1-1 communications east and north of Arlington Heights, including Prospect Heights Fire Protection District. Des Plaines police recently joined Wheeling’s police dispatch center.

Even recently, NWCDS CAD and computer terminals go down frequently for maintenance — or unexpectedly.

Meanwhile, police chiefs, fire chiefs and committee members with similar problems in Western Will County have been outspoken and public about the problems with WESCOM.

“Why do you keep selling this to agencies who are now having the same problems?”

— Julie Ponce-Doyle, Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Board Committee Chair

WESCOM — the western Will County 9-1-1 Communication Center — was formed in 1992.
The dispatch center serves …

Braidwood Police Department
Braidwood Fire Protection District
Channahon Police Department
Channahon Fire District
Crest Hill Police Department
Custer Fire Protection District
Elwood Police Department
Elwood Fire Protection District
Minooka Fire Protection District
Northwest Homer Fire Protection District
Plainfield Police Department
Plainfield Fire Protection District
Rockdale Fire Protection District
Shorewood Police Department
South Wilmington FPD
Troy Fire Protection District
Wilmington Police Department
Wilmington Fire Protection District
Wilmington ESDA
ILEAS (Region 3)

See also …
The Cardinal Arlington Heights Man Dies After SUV Hits Townhouse, Electric Transformer and Sinks in Pond

The Cardinal Northwest Central Dispatch System 9-1-1 Dispatchers Vote No-Confidence in Management; CAD Failures Put Them at End of Rope

The Cardinal Northwest Central Dispatcher Dawn Brezwyn Suspended 3 Days After Inquiry Into Sinking Vehicle Drowning Death

The Cardinal Complaints About ID Networks CAD Software at Northwest Central Dispatch 911 Raises Concern About Delays, Systemic Software Problems

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