On March 24, 2015 San Jose, California Police Officer Michael Johnson was shot and killed in the line of duty while at a call for a suicidal man with a gun. Information is now coming forward indicating that officers in the field were not able to utilize their mobile data terminals (MDTs) during the incident. The failure of the MDTs reportedly hindered officers ability to gather information and respond to unrelated calls during the shooting.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, SJPD officials blame the failure on a combination of outdated MDT equipment and 3G network cards. Officials say they are aware of the limitations presented by the outdated equipment and that they are working on improving the situation. It does not appear that a problem with the MDT equipment had a role in Officer Johnson’s death.
The technology situation in San Jose is not unique in any department, in any city, in any jurisdiction. In a world where devices are outdated virtually as soon as they are manufactured, it is difficult for cash strapped agencies to keep up. As useful as technology is, we need to educate, train, and exercise ourselves (both communications staff and field resources) on what to do when the system breaks. Does your agency have a plan if your MDT or CAD were to go down? How often do you practice it?
We are working to compile audio from the incident and will make it available as soon as possible.