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Computers crash during Y2K test run

By By Sherry Digmon
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of stories on how local agencies and businesses are preparing for the Y2K Millenium Bug.
The system crashed.
Alarmists said it would happen. And it already has.
When technicians tried to make the computer system at the Escambia County (Ala.) Detention Center Y2K compliant, the system crashed.
Sheriff Tim Hawsey's department is going through a unique training exercise n except it's not an exercise. This crash is the real thing.
In addition to losing computer capabilities at the jail, the office system crashed too.
Office personnel have gone back to paperwork. The jail staff has gone back to manual security at the jail.
Hawsey said most of the officers have not worked a manual system before. The computer crash has provided good training.
If there are problems the weekend of Jan. 1, 2000, Hawsey plans to have manpower ready.
The sheriff is not manning just for Y2K problems. It's standard practice to have additional personnel on duty during holidays.
The same is true for the Atmore Police Department. Chief Danny McKinley said extra officers will be on duty.
He's not anticipating manpower or computer problems.
The staff has done checks on the department's computer system and the NCIC link to Montgomery.
McKinley said his department is always prepared for a disaster.
The cell doors at the county jail may not be back on a computerized system by Dec. 31 at midnight. The doors at the Atmore City Jail are manually operated.
But what about the doors that are operated by computer?
When the computers hit the year 2000, will prison doors swing open as they did in the recent television movie Y2K? Will Atmore's proximity to two prisons put the populace at risk?
Not likely.
Holman Prison Warden Charlie Jones and Fountain Correctional Center Warden Willie Thomas are prepared.
But he doesn't expect that to happen. He does expect the system to work properly.
Alabama Power Company has assured Jones the company is ready, but generators have been checked, just in case. And if the generators don't function, the prison doors still won't fly open.
If, for some unforeseen reason, the system doesn't work, prison officials have made plans for inmate care.
Just to make sure the new millennium comes in without a hitch, extra officers will be on duty.
Thomas reported that preparations also have been made at Fountain Correctional Facility.
The staff n Thomas, Deputy Warden Jerry Ferrell, captains and maintenance men n are to report to work at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31. In addition, 15 to 20 officers will be on standby.
Published Dec. 1, 1999