Police Communication Problems During Officer's Shooting Prompt Investigation - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Police Communication Problems During Officer's Shooting Prompt Investigation

Two separate issues are impacting the ability for police in Delaware County to communicate, sometimes during critical calls. The issues came to light after Folcroft Officer Chris Dorman survived being shot seven times Friday. (Published Monday, June 27, 2016)

An investigation into problems with police radio is underway in Delaware County after emergency communications ran into issues in the crucial moments after Folcroft Police Officer Chris Dorman was shot by a drug suspect on Friday.

Authorities in Delaware County confirmed that a police dispatcher's computer began to reboot without warning during Dorman's shooting as dispatchers were working to communicate with the wounded officer and others as they responded. The dispatcher quickly moved to a different computer and never lost communication with the officers on the street, officials said.

But computer issues aren't the only problem with emergency communications: Officials in Delaware County told NBC10's Cydney Long that sometimes, when the weather changes from warm to cool, radio frequencies go out for short periods of time.

"There are periods of time when the radio frequencies go out and they don't hit the tower, they don't hit the antennae," Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe, whose borough neighbors Folcroft, said. He said the problem seems to surface when hot days transition into cool nights and the temperature changes.

"An officer gets out of the car ... he doesn't have radio contact, but he doesn't know that because there's nothing that triggered it. It's an act of nature," Smythe said.

Officials said the county installed special antennae called booster repeater antennae in the past to help mitigate the problem, but that it still surfaces at times.

Police radio recordings from Dorman's shooting captured the officer's chilling call: "I'm shot! I'm shot! I'm shot!"

In the wake of the shooting, the Delaware County Council called for an investigation into communications during and after it to identify and try to resolve any communication problems.

"The bad part is it's happening," Smythe said. "The good part is that the county is responding."