Police kids: Hey, Motorola! Fix your radios, Daddy's life depends on it

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Motorola police radios (Photo: Facebook)
Motorola police radios (Photo: Facebook)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Families of Cincinnati police and its union are appealing to Motorola to fix what they describe as persistent radio problems putting officers at risk.

Photos being posted to Facebook show officers' children and police wives holding Motorola radios and signs urging the industry leader to resolve issues once and for all.

"Hey! Motorola!! Fix Your Radios Our Daddy's Life Depends on it!!!" reads one sign held up by two small children wearing Cincinnati police uniforms.

Police radios are still failing despite city and police officials trying to resolve issues with supplier Motorola since last summer, according to the police union leader.

In a story you saw first on FOX19 NOW, the police union last fall revealed serious problems with the radios.

Transmissions were not understood at times or were not broadcast at all, putting the city's officers and, ultimately, the public, at risk, according to Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.

The radios, considered "lifelines," are how officers communicate with dispatchers and each other in the field as dispatchers relay information from 911 calls and police respond, Hils said.

Officers are supposed to hit a button on their microphone, speak into it and be clearly and immediately heard.

Police officials have been working with the company for months to try to fix the problems, but Hils said only marginal progress has been made and he would welcome back the old radios.

"On this Police Memorial week it is time to force Motorola to fix or replace our faulty new radios and system," Sgt. Dan Hils wrote in a Facebook post.

"Again many failures of communications are being reported to me and again the radios are failing at the worst possible times. The failures are occurring during foot pursuits or other high stress moments.

"There have been months of patience with only very modest improvement. Our officers and dispatchers are frustrated. Please have their backs and post your message to Motorola."

Some officers also are speaking out on Twitter.

"Officers lives depend on @MotoSolutions fixing our radios and soon. Help us get their attention to expedite this fix. When will you fix it?" Tweeted District 3 Officer Kyle Strunk.

The problem greatly concerns police wife Lauren DeFranco. She and her husband, Officer Tom DeFranco, have four children under the age of 10.

"It's a major issue from my family's standpoint because our number one goal is for Daddy to come home every morning," DeFranco said Monday.

"My message to Motorola is: Please, there's something with this equipment that is faulty," she said.

"Please, you need to fix this. You need to revamp it. You need to make sure that this doesn't effect a life because it's not going to take long before I'm fearing that it will."

Another police wife posted to Facebook:

"This is ripping my heart out...what started as a seemingly crafty project with the kids to prompt corporate action...has since reminded me how very different (Cincinnati Police Officer) Ken's (Grubbs) incident could have resulted.

These radios are their lifeline to support in many situations, and especially in times of "officer down" where their lives depend on it.

Please consider writing a letter to Motorola, posting on their Facebook page, flooding their Email, taking pics like this ...anything to emphasize that action is required NOW."

Representatives from Motorola released the following statement:

"Motorola Solutions and the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) continue to work closely together to ensure new remote speaker microphones (RSM) more closely emulate the audio capabilities and functionality that CPD has been used to for many years. CPD's radios were deployed last summer and a small number have already been reprogrammed to optimize audio and functionality capability with the RSMs. Motorola Solutions stands ready to quickly reprogram the remaining fleet of radios to work with the new RSMs as soon as CPD indicates its preferred timing to move forward with this software deployment."

Cincinnati police and city officials have not yet responded to requests for comment.

"We are working on getting an update for you," wrote a city spokesman, Rocky Merz, in an email Monday to FOX19 NOW.

Earlier this year, police spokesman Lt. Steve Saunders said they are working to resolve problems and to meet the department's expectations.

"While some progress has been made in improving the quality of the radio transmissions, there are still challenges that need to be resolved," Saunders wrote in a statement back in February.

"We are working closely with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69 to specifically identify deficiencies that have been brought to FOP President Dan Hils's attention and share these concerns for the effectiveness of our communications systems."

In a statement to FOX19 NOW earlier this year, company officials said Motorola was working with CPD to "implement a new speaker microphone that more closely emulates the audio capabilities and functionality of the XTS 5000 radio that CPD used for many years."

In October, City Manager Harry Black sent Motorola officials a letter demanding they provide reliable communication as promised, including replacement radios, within 30 days.

Late last year, he wrote a memo to City Council outlining all the efforts police administrators were making to resolve issues with Motorola.

The police department - working with Motorola - conducted tests in November of several microphone types and a new radio software configuration developed by the company, Black wrote.

As a result of the testing, he said it was determined that Motorola would:

  • expand and implement the new Motorola configuration on all radios
  • transition to a new microphone model for all personnel use
  • along with the police department, continue to monitor the radio network for performance enhancement options
  • assist CPD in engaging directly with officers via  staff note and/or roll call training overview of the evaluation results and radio bets practices refresher training.

Black concluded his Dec. 23 memo by writing "The issues with the implementation of the new radios have been unfortunate and frustrating. The City and CPD are taking every step to engage Motorola and ensure the safety of our police officers.

"A number of solutions have been tested and improvements are being implemented that will address a number of the transmission issues. We will continue to actively engage with Motorola to make improvements and monitor system performance closely."

In a memo attached to Black's, Police Chief Eliot Isaac wrote on Dec. 22 he felt the steps police administrators were taking with Motorola "will rectify the deficiencies identified."

But, the chief noted, there were still problems.

"Although we have made substantial progress to achieve a satisfactory solution, there are a number of isolated failures, the causes of which we are working to identify and resolve. As we continue to move forward, we will keep you informed of any changes."

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