Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cops Return to Old Radio System 27% Failure Rate on New Units Doesn't Meet Needs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cops Return to Old Radio System 27% Failure Rate on New Units Doesn't Meet Needs

Article excerpt

Clay County has unplugged its emergency 800-megahertz radio

system and is giving the company that designed it one last

chance to prove it can fix its transmission problems.

Police, fire and rescue agencies in Clay County returned to the

old VHF radio system on Oct. 3 after Sheriff Scott Lancaster

shut down the 800-megahertz system.

Lancaster took that step because the radio communications

company, E.F. Johnson, hadn't lived up to its contract with the

county to install the radio system and have it fully functioning

within 18 months.

"They promised 95 percent coverage in 95 percent of the

county," Lancaster said. "They haven't done that."

Recent tests show a 27 percent failure rate on the system,

which is set up to allow public safety agencies within one

geographic area to share the same transmission tower and

frequency.

E.F. Johnson, which was bought by Transcript International in

July, had been given three extensions by the county to resolve

the transmission failures. The last extension expired Sept. 30.

No one was jeopardized by the transmission failures, according

to Lancaster, police chiefs and other public safety officers in

Clay County. But the transmission failures were potentially

dangerous.

Sometimes, officers couldn't hear dispatchers on their

hand-held radios. Other times, they wouldn't receive a

transmission from a partner standing several feet away.

The Clay County system went down for seven or eight minutes one

night about three weeks ago, leaving two Green Cove Springs

officer who had stopped motorists for traffic violations without

contact with a dispatcher.

They would have been in trouble if they had needed help, said

Police Chief Gail Russell, "Nobody would have known," he said.

The county contracted with E.F. Johnson for the radio system in

1995 for nearly $2.5 million. The company was selected because

it had 73 years in business, its bid was by far the lowest of

three submitted and it offered a written guarantee. …

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