Two major communications programs used by Quebec City police have found serious failures that could have endangered the safety of the police and their response to the ground on the night of the Halloween sword attack that killed two people, Radio-Canada has heard.
Police officials were aware that the programs were flawed, even though they were considered modern technology.
According to a Radio-Canada report, a computer-assisted (CAD) computer program installed on the dashboards of police vehicles crashed while police were searching for the suspect.
The system allows police to view the data of 911 calls – including where the call came from and a description of the suspect – as the call took place. Phone data helps to compile their response and allow them to seek help from other police officers, paramedics or firefighters.
When the system failed on October 31, police had received reports that a young man had crashed into the streets of Old Quebec City, attacking people with swords.
It took them more than an hour to alert the public after the first 911 phone call at 10:30 p.m., but a police spokesman said technical problems did not affect the response that night.
Suzanne Clermont, 61, and François Duchesne, 56, were killed in the incident.
24-year-old Carl Girouard has been charged with two counts of first murder and five counts of attempted murder.
In a joint statement sent via email, Quebec City and police officials agree that “the system found a period of instability for a few minutes on the night of October 31,” but do not specify how long it was set.
Quebec City police spokesman David Pelletier said the failure “had no significant impact on performance.”
“Even if the telecommunications system had a big problem, it’s important to say that we have the same systems in place to ensure continuous operation, at all times,” Peletier said.
But according to Radio-Canada, one of those similar programs also failed that night.
It is called Service évolué de radiocommunication pour l’agglomération de Québec (SÉRAQ) and incorporates radio waves used by police to call each other.
That night, however, calls between police and 911 dispatchers came in and out and were attacked by poor sound quality, Radio-Canada heard.
ISÉRAQ was revived in July 2019, after Quebec City police had been using the same radio communication system since the 1980s. At a council meeting last month, Quebec City said the plan would cost $ 30 million to make all structures.
A police officer wants action taken
In a November 5 speech to police received by Radio-Canada, Quebec City police chief Robert Pigeon said “a few of you highlight the instability in the system,” referring to CAD, deployment technology.
“These problems are real,” the memory continued, adding that Pigeon had met with police officers in September to try to understand where these problems originated and how they could be resolved.
And on November 5, Pigeon wrote to the city’s communications technology department, demanding that the system be repaired.
“It is important that the tools made available to our employees are efficient, effective and reliable,” the letter said. “The consequences could be devastating. Remedial action should be taken immediately.”
Peletier, a police spokesman, says the systems are complex and once implemented, more time is needed to solve any problems.
A team of information technology experts and police representatives are already working to address these issues in the short and long term,” he said.