BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners went through an "After Action Review," this week, relating to the rocky transition of the county's emergency services radio system. The county contracted with Harris Radio to switch from analog to a digital system, in July 2017. But, the conversion was plagued with transmission problems.
Commissioner Tony DeBone says the report was commissioned to answer key questions, like "Did we receive the system we purchased?", "Did we pay too much for the wrong thing?" and even, "Did someone do something illegal?" He tells KBND News, "There was some weak points, the contract, with the technical horsepower we had at 911 at the time to be able to answer the questions or support the end user, but it was just a bigger transition than we expected. it wasn't really, malicious." He adds, "It was just some choices made. The transition happened, people lost confidence; so, that is to say, we've answered the question of, did somebody do something illegal."
DeBone says, "The System is working well now. We do have a functional system that public safety is pleased with, at this point." He says both Sheriff Shane Nelson and Bend Police Chief Jim Porter have told him they are happy with how it's working. But, he says, he learned one of the biggest issues was a lack of communication and teamwork, "This radio system, the backbone is the 911; and the user equipment is the police and fire agencies. If a police or fire person says, 'Hey, my radio doesn't work,' the agency points at the district, and the district points at the agency and says, 'It's your fault, or your problem.' And we need to be more professional about how we deal with that. This is a function of a growing community."
In roughly three weeks, DeBone says, Bend Fire will switch over to the Harris system, too, doing away with their analog system. He doesn't anticipate any difficulties.