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Oakland’s $3M Plan To Fix Flawed Police Radio System Draws Critics

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An Oakland Police patrol car. (CBS)

An Oakland Police patrol car. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The Oakland City Council’s finance committee voted Tuesday to hold off on a decision regarding a new request from the City Administrator’s office for $3 million meant to fix some areas affecting Oakland’s troubled police radio system.

The committee would like to see a proposal from a regional radio network that may cost less to administer and would join Oakland’s radio communications with 40 other East Bay communities.

Representatives from the City Administrator’s office said more than $1.5 million would be used to fix up the city’s 911 Communication Centers. Those fixes would include seismic upgrades, new wall to wall carpeting specially designed to reduce electrostatic discharge, and new desk consoles for the dispatchers to sit at during their shifts.

Tower upgrades would also be included in the plan. David Cruise of the city’s Department of Information Technology explained to KPIX 5 that the city maintains a separate microwave system independent of the radio system and that microwave system needs its own structural support, including generators. Each tower upgrade is slated to be $500,000.

“The improvements that we are trying to make are not specific to the radio system,” Cruise said. “They are specific to systems that support our 911 dispatch centers.”

But Oakland’s police union, along with the Fire Department have repeated said that they feel these upgrades would not be necessary if Oakland joined the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority, also known as EBRCSA.

“This is throwing away good money after bad,” said Barry Donelan of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association. “There’s a regional system out there and for a faction of the cost of this emergency appropriation you can join it and get it up and running.”

A representative of EBRCSA told KPIX 5 that it presented a proposal to the City Administrator’s office in August of 2012. Spokesperson Bill McCammon stated that the agency is holding to its original cost estimate of $460,000.

McCammon said those funds would cover a systematic radio upgrade and also include new computer consoles for the 911 dispatch centers. Each radio EBRCSA services would also cost about $35 a month.

“We are prepared to help move Oakland onto our system with the full support of our Board of Directors,” said McCammon. “We are pleased to hear the proposal will be heard by the Finance Committee.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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