The Bug is a no-show

7 p.m.: The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Penn Police Headquarters opens for the evening. Having watched the new millennium arrive in more time zones than I can remember, and knowing that all of the ATM machines in the Republic of Tonga are still operating, dispensing puka shells or whatever passes for currency, I settle in for what promises to be a long, uneventful New Year’s Eve.

The department has been preparing for this night for a long time. Every single one of the officers working for the UPPD are here tonight. The department was good enough to buy hoagies for those of us stuck here for the night. If this night goes as planned, there will be many a hoagie taken home when the festivities are over, and everything will be fine. As long as the knuckleheads with guns don’t run into the streets blasting away. After all, what goes up, must come down.

8 p.m.: More folks arrive at the EOC. Some bring their wives; there is more food than any of us could eat. ABC has a psychic on the air. The networks must be very disappointed that the anticipated problems have not occurred, as they have quite a bit of air time to fill. We pass our time switching around the networks. Apparently, they are as bored as we are.

10 p.m.: The EOC conducts its emergency radio check with Facilities, Housing, Telecom, ISC Networking, Environmental Health and Radiation Safety, ULAR and UPHS. All report normal operating conditions.

11:42 p.m.: Reports of “shots fired” are broadcast over Philadelphia Police and UPPD radio from all over the city. Not only are these people knuckleheads, they can’t even tell time. The Philly police exchange gunfire with a few people. A few bad guys are shot by the police and taken to hospitals. No reports of anyone else injured.

Midnight, Jan. 1, 2000: Times Square erupts with the sound of two million people. Philly erupts with gunfire. The lights stay on, the water flows, the heat still works and the planes still fly. PPD radio reports multiple “person with a gun” calls. The fireworks from Penn’s Landing are on television, like none I’ve ever seen in the city before.

12:46 a.m.: UPHS reports a steady stream of gunshot victims at emergency rooms. On a better note, the Hospital has reported that a baby girl was born just after midnight – the city’s first millennium baby.

1:18 a.m.: Report of a robbery, 42nd and Baltimore Ave. The complainant was able to spray the bad guy with pepper spray. Our cops find and arrest three offenders, and in the process find a large amount of drugs and a gun, dropped by one of the bad guys. A very good arrest, and better still, no one was hurt. (Except for the bad guy with the runny eyes.) The robbery is determined not to be Y2K-related.

2 a.m.: The various University groups check in and report no problems. Some have even decided to let their extra staff go home for the night. Given how smooth the night went, the EOC will also be closing early. The contingency plans have worked well, and the University’s mission critical infrastructure (electricity, heat, and water) has remained intact. All of the “worst-case” scenarios we have planned for extensively have not happened. If however, things did go bad, the University community can be assured that we would have been prepared.

2:30 a.m.: Lights out in the EOC. Time to go home. Planning for Y3K to begin shortly.

Oh, by the way … the gunfire has stopped.

Sgt. Gary Heller is the accreditation manager for the University Police Department.


Originally published on January 20, 2000