Oakland Cops' Radios Don't Work | NBC Bay Area

Oakland Cops' Radios Don't Work

Oakland police say their radio system is failing.



    (Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012)

    Oakland police radios aren't the best in the business -- but now they may be the worst.

    Cops in the East Bay city say that their communications system is so beset by "glitches" that officers have a tough time merely talking to one another.

    The situation has become so bad that the police union leader says cops never know when and where a radio may -- or may not -- work.

    "Officers just do not know whether it's going to work, you hit the mic, try and speak and it may or may not work, that’s it," according to police union President Barry Donelan, who spoke to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday. "Sometimes, our radio doesn’t broadcast our officers. They can't hear one another even in close quarters on radio, they can't hear dispatch, sometimes you have total radio failure. It changes everyday, and it’s a completely uncertain situation."

    The details were unleashed in a city report released on Tuesday, which outlined "poor reception, unclear audio and speaker problems." 

    On Wednesday, the police chief was trying to answer questions about the faulty system.

    In an interview with NBC Bay Area, Police Chief Howard Jordan said: "We expect that when our officers are out in the field, we give them the best piece of equipment so they can be safe and respond to citizens’ calls for service. So I'm very concerned about some of the results that came out. However, I do commend the officers for being patient, for being persistent. I do commend the city for taking this very seriously. We want to make sure the police department will provide the utmost cooperation to the vendors, to the technical people in solving this problem because this is a very big concern for us when it comes to officers' safety, and we cannot afford to have equipment that is not reliable in the time of need."

    The city used grants to pay for an $18 million digital system, rather than wait to join a regional digital public safety radio network now used by 40 other agencies.

    Oakland's network of radio towers and antenna proved insufficient to handle the new radio system, which Donelan said is "worse than the old system."

    The city is currently searching for fixes, but will have to hire an outside consultant.