Antiquated 911 system has trouble tracking bogus threats
by Jolene Toves
Guam - As the Guam Police and Guam Fire Departments continue to investigate bogus threats that were called into two public schools on Thursday, the difficulties authorities have in tracking those behind these fake threats have surfaced. Two bomb threats and an anthrax threat were called into the E-911 Center on Thursday prompting fire, police and homeland security personnel to respond.
The threats forced the evacuation of hundreds of students resulting in the loss of valuable educational time and wasting emergency resources as the threats were unfounded.
But as advanced as technology is these days and with a multitude of calling features and capabilities from call back, to call blocking, it raises the question why E-911 is not able to track who called in the threats to the two schools.
GFD is in charge of our local Emergency 911 Center and while they do record calls received their tracking capabilities are limited. E-911 center GFD Lieutenant Phillip Camacho told KUAM News, "The major hindrance is that the system is old it doesn't have that feature that capability as more up-to-date or modern systems have like the next-gen 911 that we are trying to procure," he said. "We cannot trace calls and we are only able to actually give the number that appears and then give a recording."
Not having tracing capabilities also means that if a number is blocked it is a problem. E911 does however get an updated list of all phone numbers from carriers biweekly. "We have current information regarding landlines and even cell phones to an extent the only difference is we don't have addresses for cell phones we don't know who owns them we have to actually go back to the carrier," Camacho explained.
Because the system is so outdated, Camacho is hopeful the next generation 911 system will solve the current issues, noting, "There are certain options that are open to us that we didn't initially know about this has been a venture for about a year to get this new system going."
Camacho says they are currently drafting the request for proposal for the new system. Officials say there is some funding available from the 911 surcharge but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to cover the cost of a brand new system.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Thursday's threats has been turned over to the FBI.