Motorola to face Cincinnati leaders over police radios, safety concerns

Council wants answers about police radios
Updated: Jun. 5, 2017 at 7:05 AM EDT
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Photo courtesy Support the Blue in Cincy Facebook page.
Photo courtesy Support the Blue in Cincy Facebook page.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Concerns with Cincinnati police radios return to City Hall Monday.

Officials with the company that provides them, Motorola Solutions, are due before Council's Law & Public Safety Committee at 10 a.m.

Committee Chairman Councilman Chris Smitherman has threatened to take legal action against the industry leader and demanded Motorola officials appear.

"I hope when they come they don't say 'Here's our plan to fix it.' We're looking for these matters to be resolved in the next 14 days," he said last month after a veteran police dispatcher came forward to reveal what she called "extreme problems" risking officer safety.

FOX19 NOW will have a crew at City Hall and will update this story throughout the day.

Problems with police radios surfaced last year almost as soon as they replaced the old ones.

In a story you saw first on FOX19 NOW, the Cincinnati police union leader announced the devices, considered officer's "lifelines," were failing at times when they needed them the most.

FOP looks into lawsuit against Motorola over police radios, safety concerns

City and police officials have been working with Motorola representatives to fix the issues.

Minimal progress has been made, said Sgt. Dan Hils, FOP president.

The company has made more efforts to resolve all the issues, he said, but it's not clear yet if they will work, he said.

Sgt.Hils said he was surprised city and police administrators have not been more vocal about it.

"They seem less motivated than me to shake the trees,"Sgt. Hils said. "They are willing to work with (Motorola) and so am I, but I will do whatever it takes to get these things fixed as fast as possible before it causes a catastrophe."

And now there also are problems with the CAD system, known as Computer Assisted Dispatch system, according to Sgt. Hils and the veteran police dispatcher, Julie Pratt.

She recently came forward with Sgt. Hils after asking for whistleblower protection.

TriTech, the vendor behind the new CAD system, also has been asked to appear before Law & Public Safety Monday.

The company has not respond to requests for comment.

Issues with police equipment comes as summer looms. Like many cities, Cincinnati typically sees a seasonal crime spike.

Last month, Sgt. Hils unleashed a bold campaign on Facebook to draw attention to the problems with Motorola's radios.

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

He shared several photos on Facebook depicting officer's children and wives holding the devices, begging Motorola to fix them.

Last month, Motorola released a statement saying they can begin reprogramming the radios to optimize functionality.

"Motorola Solutions and the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) have been working together for the past months to ensure new remote speaker microphones (RSM) paired with new, Motorola Solutions portable radios more closely emulate the audio capabilities and functionality that CPD has been used to for many years," the statement reads.

"CPD's new radios were deployed last summer and Motorola Solutions delivered new RSMs to CPD in January and reprogrammed some for CPD testing purposes over the past four months. The City Manager last week told the Mayor and City Council their testing was nearing completion, and on May 17 CPD gave Motorola Solutions the go-ahead to begin reprogramming the remaining fleet of radios to optimize audio and functionality capability with the RSMs so CPD officers can begin using the new communications solutions as designed."

Cincinnati police are in the process of finalizing the field testing evaluation, which will enable a configuration of radio settings, the city manager wrote in a May 16 memo to Mayor John Cranley and City Council.

"The new configuration will then be implemented on all radios by the contractor, Motorola, who has been a responsive partner," Black wrote.

"The reliability functionality of these radios represents an absolutely critical first responder tool and one that demands our continued high priority."

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