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AT&T Denies Cell Phone Towers Interfere With Oakland Police Radios

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Oakland police cruisers (CBS)

Oakland police cruisers (CBS)

MargieShafer20100909_KCBS_0346r Margie Shafer
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OAKLAND (KCBS) – Problems with the Oakland police radio system over the past year were not caused by interference from AT&T cell phone towers, according to the company.

Independent testing at 16 cell sites identified as sources of interference by Oakland found all but one operating within FCC guidelines, the company said in a statement released Wednesday.

The one cell tower where the independent evaluator discovered a local site issue, located in Hayward, was too far away to have caused communications blackouts, AT&T said.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

The police radios have failed on several occasions, most notably during a visit by President Barack Obama in July.

As recently as this weekend, patrol cars were unable to transmit or receive transmissions from the dispatch center, said Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.

An independent company tested the towers after separate investigations by Oakland and the Federal Communications Commission pinned those radio problems on AT&T.

AT&T sent a letter to the Oakland City Attorney’s Office that outlines the results of its testing and criticizes “the direction and tone of recent discussions about the public radio system.”

Donelan said the city should focus on fixing the problem rather than engaging in tit for tat with the cell phone company.

“I don’t know whose fault it is. I don’t know anything about AT&T. I just know that the officers who are putting their lives on the line serving the citizens of Oakland are using a radio system that is inadequate for the job,” he said, adding that most East Bay cities use a shared regional public safety network.

“We are on an island, as it were here in Oakland, with a system that is unique to us and doesn’t work,” said Donelan.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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