Radio system for San Diego County agencies crashes: Outage due to circuit board failure

Agencies switched to secondary frequencies

SAN DIEGO - San Diego County Sheriff's deputies and firefighters were unable to communicate early Wednesday after the agencies' radio network crashed. 

Radio communication for San Diego County law enforcement and fire departments south of Del Mar and Poway shut down just after midnight and did not turn back on until about 3 a.m.

San Diego authorities are on a different system and were not affected.

All radio communication was out – from two-way radios to mobile radios – between cars and between dispatchers and cars.

When asked if there was a delay in response times, San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell replied, "No, there was no delay in response times."

Caldwell said within minutes of the shutdown, every agency – including police in El Cajon and National City – activated their own backup radio systems.

Eventually, the cause was discovered and fixed: a circuit board failure in aging equipment that was slated to be replaced.

"The important thing here is that there were no missed calls, no mishaps and no accidents," said Caldwell.

Still, there are questions. Tests are being run to see why the radio system's internal backup, which is designed to avoid outages, failed.

Last May, the 911 system shutdown forced dispatchers to another location. It is unclear if the incidents are connected.

When asked if the public should be concerned about it, Caldwell said, "No, the public should be not concerned."

Caldwell said multiple backup systems ensure the silence would not last long.

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