Switch glitch brings down Virginia police network

The failure of a network switch Jan. 19 at Virginia’s state police headquarters left troopers without access for five hours to records needed to run checks on gun purchasers, sex offenders or speeding motorists, the Associated Press reported.

The outage was traced to a faulty switch at state police’s Richmond headquarters, AP said. The glitch brought down the Virginia Criminal Information Network, which feeds 700 agencies in Virginia and houses information ranging from missing person reports to stolen vehicle record.

The network handled more than 416 million transactions last year, AP said.

The network is run by the Virginia Information Technology Agency under a $2.4 billion contract with Northrup Grumman Corp. The 10-year deal has been plagued by a series of technical mishaps, AP reported. Last April, the state police lost communication links for an entire week after new software was installed. An earlier server outage put dozens of state offices offline for several days in 2010.

Virginia chief information officer Samuel Nixon told the AP that the network’s “footprint is enormous,” covering “literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment.”

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