Sheriff’s Office: Phones, computer system working following outage

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MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday, September 19th phones and the computer network were back up and running following an outage Tuesday night. The outage was apparently caused by an electrical power failure at the County Courthouse, and affected Milwaukee County’s 911 dispatch center, the city of Milwaukee’s website and County officials’ email system. The outage lasted about six hours.

Around 7:00 Tuesday night, the Milwaukee County Emergency System experienced a power outage — lasting only a few seconds. Servers then had to be manually restarted.

In a statement issued Wednesday, officials say a backup battery system and backup generator failed to activate as they are designed to during a power failure.

Calls coming into the Milwaukee County dispatch center were routed to Waukesha’s dispatch center, where officials say they saw a nearly tripled call volume.

Sherri Stiegler is the Waukesha dispatch center’s training and operations manager. She says Waukesha serves as the backup for Milwaukee County and vice versa in handling situations like Tuesday night. Stiegler said around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Milwaukee sent two dispatchers to Waukesha to help the Waukesha staff handle the heavier call load.

Stiegler said this is according to an established emergency plan, and says Waukesha’s dispatch center has Milwaukee’s system loaded onto several computers so Waukesha dispatchers can respond to Milwaukee’s calls.

“We have their back and they have ours. The pre-planning kept everyone in touch and on the line. The system worked exactly how it was supposed to work. This is why we’re there for Milwaukee, and why Milwaukee is there for us,” Stiegler said.

Milwaukee’s dispatchers were able to stay in touch with deputies in the field as their radio system was not affected by the outage.

In a statement, Sheriff’s officials say the problem was fixed by about 10:30 Tuesday night, but the system wasn’t routed back to Milwaukee until nearly 2:00 a.m.

Officials say it is unclear at this time why the backup systems did not activate as they were designed to do.

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