A massive records system server crash in late October left 23 Hamilton County police agencies estranged from their own records about locations, incidents and offenders for over two weeks -- and counting.
Officers waiting for a fix from PAMET Software have returned to old-fashioned methods of record-keeping: All reports that would otherwise be filed online now enter the world handwritten onto photocopied forms and stored in manila folders.
It's a significant time commitment that weighs on department productivity, Forest Park Officer Ron Wilson said Thursday, but that's not the most important issue.
The information blackout also represents a genuine hazard to officers in the field.
"It's a safety factor when the officers are going to a run and we're unable to pull up some of the past history to a house that we may be going to," he said.
There are smaller inconveniences, too, such as people involved in car crashes being unable to access the associated reports for their insurance claims. Most have been understanding, according to Forest Park clerk Ahlaundra White, but some have become upset.
Capt. Rick Jones can sympathize.
"We pay a company to provide a service," he said. "We've been assured that service will be provided, that there will be multiple backups, that this could not happen -- but, of course, with what we're experiencing now, it has happened."
PAMET said Thursday in a statement its employees understood the urgency of the situation and hoped to restore all access by Saturday. Once the system is back online, officers such as Wilson will need to enter their handwritten reports manually.
Still, he said, that's better than continuing to do police work in chicken-scratch.
"We cannot wait," he said.
The departments affected by the server crash are as follows: Addyston, Cheviot, Cleves, Colerain Township, Delhi Township, Elmwood Place, Fairfax, Forest Park, Glendale, Greenhills, Green Township, Lockland, Mariemont, Montgomery, Mount Healthy, North College Hill, Reading, Springfield Township and St. Bernard.