The president was in downtown Oakland, speaking to an overflow crowd at the Fox Theater while protestors roamed the street. 100 officers were assigned to handle problems that could arise. That's when officers say they had sporadic problems communicating on their two-way radios.
"The system is a train wreck, said Barry Donelan, head of the Oakland Police Officers Association. "It just does not work. It needs to either be fixed or replaced"
According to Donelan, the problem just kept getting worse, "For 30 minutes at one point, officers had a complete failure. But the problem had cascaded during the day and got worse and worse and worse."
The new radio system was installed only a year ago. Since then it's been riddled with breakdowns and dead spots.
With serious crime rising 20 percent in Oakland, City Councilman Ignacio De la Fuente says the radio problems are unacceptable, "This thing cannot continue. Whatever it takes to get those radios working, we have to do it and everything else doesn't matter."
At a hastily called news conference, city and police officials said the radio system never failed completely, that problems were only intermittent, and that the first they heard about it was 10 p.m., long after the president had left.
Police Chief Howard Jordan says he was in constant touch with the incident commander, "He told me that he did not have any problems deploying our resources at the time the president was here at the Fox Theater."
They discovered the cause of the problem at 12:30 p.m. A new cooling system broke down, causing one of the three radio towers to fail. City officials say that system and the tower were back in service early Tuesday morning.
City officials acknowledge they have problems with their new radio system. They say they're trying to find ways to get rid of the glitches and even possibly replace it with a completely new system. .