Expensive Milwaukee Police Digital Radio System Doesn’t Always Work


A digital radio system for police that has cost Milwaukee about $17.5 million since 2003 still is not fully operational, and the system’s dispatch consoles – which cost $1.9 million – are becoming obsolete and must be replaced by 2012, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. This week, the system’s manufacturer requested an extension until March to try to modify the consoles so they will continue to be compatible with the radios until 2012, when the vendor that services the consoles will no longer provide support for them.

The glitch with the consoles was discovered this fall and is the latest in a series of problems that have plagued the radio system. Dead spots and other technical issues have required extensive troubleshooting, and city officials have expressed frustration with the project’s cost and timetable. Florida-based Harris Corp., which bought the radio system’s manufacturer this year, said in an e-mailed statement that it is committed to making the system work. Some officers said they occasionally could not hear other officers’ transmissions, including calls for backup.

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