Oakland police radio system failure investigated

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Last Friday night, Oakland's police radios went silent for a while. Police, fire, and others on the system couldn't communicate on their two ways. And it isn't the first time.

This appears to be one of those rare stories where almost no one wants to talk on camera. The police and fire departments referred ABC7 News to city hall. And city hall has yet to respond even though we asked for a comment on Monday morning.

The pure and simple fact is that Oakland's public safety radio system needs fixing.

In the past several months, Oakland's public safety radio system has had at least three failures. Police, fire and other first responders on the system had to use other means to communicate with dispatch and each other.

Radio systems consultant David Cruise says the outages put public safety at risk.

"They're serious enough where no one can get on the air for periods of 30 minutes at a time," he said.

On Friday night, the radios shut down again. This time for 11 minutes.

"Sounds like there's an inherent problem somewhere in the network and they don't know how to fix it because they don't understand what's going," said Cruise.

Oakland's radio system has had a rocky history of glitches and interferences.

At the time, Cruise was a hired as a consultant to help solve the glitches.

A major problem he found turned out to be signals from cellphone sites bleeding into radio channels causing disruptions. Still over the years, Oakland's radios have been experiencing intermittent problems.

The Oakland public schools police force oversees 90 campuses. They rely on Oakland's police dispatch system.

"We've had some outages and we're monitoring OPD's radio systems," said Oakland Unified School District Police Chief Jeff Godown. "OPD's tried to work with us and they're trying to fix that problem."

The county's goal is to eventually transition to the countywide radio system. Longtime critics like the police union say the system is on its last leg and that the transfer can't come soon enough.
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