Saturday, February 27, 1999

Police, fire
officials bracing
for Y2K

More staff than usual may be
at their posts New Year's Eve
to cope with possible problems

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Police and fire officials are seriously considering keeping more personnel on duty this New Year's Eve as a precaution against problems that might be caused by the Y2K computer bug.

Police Chief Lee Donohue said he also may require that no officers be on vacation or other leave between Dec. 27 and Jan. 15.

"It's an option we're looking at right now," he said.

The chief made his comments during an informational joint meeting of the City Council's Policy and Budget committees yesterday.

Administration officials said the city is about 95 percent Y2K compliant and hopes to be fully compliant by early summer.

But Council members were told that while all agencies are taking steps to safeguard against Y2K-related glitches, some matters are out of the city's hands and could have serious affects on Oahu residents.

"We can't absolutely guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that something won't arise," said Joe Reed, Oahu Civil Defense administrator.

About 900 police officers work on a typical Jan. 1, and are given 12-hour shifts in anticipation of incidents connected to New Year's Day activities, Donohue said. Up to 800 administrative and plainclothes officers also could be pressed into duty if necessary, he said.

Contingency plans are being made for a worst-case scenario under which officers might need to be housed and fed temporarily, he said.

"By July we'll have a better feel of things," Donohue said.

He said that despite assurances by Hawaiian Electric Co. officials, his major worry is a massive power failure.

Nonoperating traffic lights would be a concern, as would malfunctioning alarms, according to the chief.

Residential burglaries, robberies and "con artists" preying on the elderly also may rise as Jan. 1 approaches if large numbers of people withdraw money from banks, he said.

Fire Chief Attilio Leonardi said he, too, is thinking about putting more people on shift during the New Year's period and holding back vacation.

Leonardi said the Fire Department has received verification of compliance for its computer-related equipment.

Each of the island's fire stations will be used as a satellite communication center, where the public could relay requests for assistance, he said.

Reed said his agency also has contingency plans in place in case of Y2K related emergencies.

James Remedios, the city's information technology director, said he and his staff began working on the Y2K problem in 1995.

In March 1995 the city identified 100 computer systems, 6,000 programs, 8 million lines of code and 3,000 inventoried personal computers that needed to be checked.

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