The Oakland Police Department is one step closer to joining a regional radio system, a move officers said will likely save lives.
Oakland's finance committee on Tuesday moved the plan forward. The plan now must be approved by the city council.
"The system here is not reliable," Oakland Police Officers Association President Barry Donelan said of the department's current radio system. "It has certainly improved. The city has invested in it, but their own independent report show that it is not sustainable."
Donelan said for years officers have complained of system outages, dead zones and the inability to communicate with neighboring police departments.
But that soon may change, despite a push to improve the current system.
"We have got to make sure that the men and women who are using those public safety radios are safe, that they can communicate and they can do their jobs," Oakland Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said.
Schaaf was among those voting on the city's finance committee to overhaul Oakland's radios by joining the East Bay Regional Communications System. The change would allow officers to talk to police in neighboring cities.
"Crime has no border. Crime crosses into other cities," Donelan said. "And this allows us to talk to directly with officers in the cities surrounding us so we can better serve our citizens."
Oakland also is set to purchase new radios. The city plans to spend $7 million for the new equipment and more than $1 million a year to be part of the East Bay system.
Officials said the new system and equipment will likely save the city money in the long run.
"The most important is not that it will save money," Schaaf said. "The most important part is that it will save lives."