By CATHERINE LUCEY
The city’s police and fire radio system suffered problems for several hours early yesterday morning, frustrating officers and the head of the FOP.
"Let’s get the radios out of the car and put the old ones in until you fix it," said Fraternal Order of Police President Robert Eddis. "Somebody is going to get killed out there."
From about 3 to 7:25 a.m., the $52 million Motorola radio system had to go onto a backup system, said Councilman Frank Rizzo, who has been closely following the ongoing issues with the radios.
But unlike other recent radio failures, this one was not Motorola’s fault, Rizzo said. Instead, the problem was traced to a Verizon power interruption at a building that houses technology that supports the radio system, Rizzo said.
Rizzo noted that although there was not a time when the system was fully shut down, the backup system did not work as well as the primary one.
"It’s lucky it happened at 3 a.m. in the morning, not on a Friday night," Rizzo said.
Police said the system was fully operational again.
The costly radio equipment has suffered breakdowns at least four times over the past year. Anger over the situation has been building in recent months. Rizzo has held two Council hearings about the system. And City Controller Jonathan Saidel has announced plans to audit the Motorola contract.
The city gave Motorola a $52 million contract for the digital radio system in 1999. It was installed in December 2002. The city also pays a maintenance fee of $1.2 million a year.
Eddis said he was fed up with the ongoing troubles.
"I’m so tired of all the talking back and forth," he said. "We’ve listened to city government tell us they’re working on the problem. It’s not getting any better."