BEND, OR -- Nearly a year after converting to a digital radio system, Bend Police transmission problems remain. Chief Jim Porter says officers have actually lost connectivity in some buildings.
Chief Porter acknowledges there have been improvements over the last few months, including at the Bend hospital, "Since I’ve been with the Bend Police Department, we’ve had two significant dead spots: one is on the north end of Awbrey Butte; the other has been St. Charles, in the shadow behind Pilot Butte. Now, it appears we have solved the problem with St. Charles, other than we still have a [disparity] between the broadcast volume and the officer’s volume." However, he tells KBND News, "We still have a very bad dead spot on the north end of Awbrey Butte, which is an area that could be subject to forest fires, could be subject to many issues that we have to deal with up there. We’ve been struggling with this since 1999. And, that was one of the agreements we made, that that would be solved. Now, my understanding is we might be able to solve that through some program settings. But, again, I believe we’re on our 13th programming of our radios."
He wants the county to look at whether Harris Radio, the system's maker, is meeting its contractual obligations. And, he's asking the company to provide data showing all the reprogramming is working. Porter us frustrated engineers delayed fixing key issues because they were focused on hardware, not the radios’ software, "Once we got the technicians to quit staring at the microphones on our lapels and actually engaging the fact that the system has a problem then we started reprogramming them." He says each time radios get reprogrammed takes officers off the street, "These are hands-on; we have to bring the radio in, plug it in and reprogram it every time. So, these are time consuming. By no means is the system adequate at this point."
Chief Porter is also calling on Harris Radio to create a timeline for fixing the remaining issues, "There is adequate funding still left in the budget for this project. So, we’re looking at ways – what is the best effective way to use taxpayer money to possibly get the system up to where we need to be."
to listen to our full conversation with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter.