A communication disaster. That's how Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones describes the moments after a deputy was shot last week.
During the most tense moments of the multi-county crime spree that lead to the shooring, radio traffic between officers and dispatch was hard to understand. Just minutes after Deputy Brandon Roberts was shot, another officer had chased the suspects down and was holding them at gun point. But he couldn't communicate that with dispatch:
(dispatch) "Confirm. You've lost them in that area, correct?"
(officer) "Say what?"
(dispatch) "Confirm. You have lost him or you have him?"
Sheriff Jones says, "It's the equivilent of when we were kids growing up, when you had two tin cans and some string and some rosin and you were shouting to the person to hope they would hear the vibrations at the next end of the can."
Specifically, Sheriff Jones says the radio's are hard to understand, there are dead zones in the county, sometimes fire fighters can't communicate in a burning building, and not everyone can hear the same thing.
He says a $22-Million overhaul of the equipment would solve those problems. And a temporary 1/2% sales tax increase would raise that much.