For a decade, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been working to correct a major hindrance to police work in subways: a radio network that keeps transit officers underground from talking with officers patrolling the streets above, says the New York Times. The goal was to replace an antiquated system with a network that would make it possible, for instance, for an officer chasing a suspect down a subway stairway to radio ahead to other officers. Last October, the authority completed the installation of the $140 million system citywide.
However, the Police Department refuses to use it, saying the new system is hobbled by interference that garbles communication and creates areas where radios cannot receive properly. “What you get is distorted audio,” said Joseph Yurman, a communications engineer for New York City Transit. “You can hear it, but it sounds as if you're talking through a glass of water.” Fixing the problem may require more advanced components at a cost of up to $20 million. If the mess can be straightened out, the full system could be turned on next year, four years behind schedule. The radio disconnect between surface and subterranean officers is another example of the kind of communications problems that have faced public safety agencies in New York City, most famously and tragically evident on 9/11/01.