Oakland Police Radio Problems Solved, Mayor Says

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Oakland police cruisers (CBS)

Oakland police cruisers (CBS)

OAKLAND (BCN) — Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Monday that problems with the Police Department’s radio system that affected the agency’s response to a high-speed chase and officer-involved shooting last week have been identified and solved.

Quan said information technology workers and police officials who worked on the issue over the weekend determined that the problem was apparently with the settings in the dispatch system.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Joining Quan and Police Chief Anthony Batts at a news conference at City Hall, City Administrator Dan Lindheim said the problem was solved with a “software reset.”

Batts said he’s happy that “steps were taken to deal with the immediate issue” with the radio system.

However, Batts said more work needed to be done to permanently fix the problems that he said have plagued the radio system for many years.

The chief said the ultimate solution would be to have an entirely new system that complies with national standards for digital radio communications, which are called Project 25, or P-25.

Systems that comply with those standards enable police departments to communicate with other agencies and mutual aid response teams in emergencies, Batts said.

He said he believes there is funding for Oakland to have such a system in the near future.

Last Wednesday afternoon, several Oakland patrol officers engaged in a high-speed chase with two suspects believed to have been responsible for firing multiple shots at people in the 7600 block of Lockwood Street.

After a 10-minute high-speed chase, the suspects’ car crashed into another car at San Leandro Street and 85th Avenue.

According to Oakland police, an officer fatally shot one of the suspects when he emerged from the suspects’ car carrying two guns and refused officers’ orders to surrender. The second suspect tried to flee on foot but was arrested nearby.

Capt. Ersie Joyner told reporters at the scene that the radio system was out of service during about half of the chase, which affected communications between the officers in the field and dispatchers, possibly delaying the medical response for the suspect who was fatally shot.

Batts said Monday that there was a “perfect storm” of glitches with the radio system during the incident.

“Eight things went wrong all at one time,” he said.

He said there are still communications problems in parts of Oakland that are blacked out from phone service, but he said those problems aren’t unique to Oakland and won’t be totally solved until there are more cell phone towers.

Batts said he and his officers also want new police cars and computers so they can do their jobs better.

Quan said she agrees that the Police Department has been stuck with “aging cars” and said she will be “pretty aggressive” in addressing the issue.

She said one possibility would be to have an “adopt a cop” program in which community members would help buy new cars for officers.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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