BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's new law enforcement radio system has been plagued with trouble almost since installation, but at a Wednesday meeting with the County Commissioners, 911 Director Steve Reinke said he believes the issues should be solved within three to four weeks.
Reinke says Harris, the manufacturer of the radio system, will meet with County Commissioners on February 28 to explain what they're doing to fix the problems. He says it's taking time because one main issue has been that each problem inevitably leads to others. "As Harris has been working through the various problems, they have uncovered other things they wanted to look into, so they're trying to be very thorough. What they're saying is this is like peeling an onion, and as they open a problem, there may be another component or two to that."
Reinke says at the initial audit, 32 significant problems were uncovered, which lead to missing, dropped, or garbled transmissions. One partial solution is to install another tower in West Bend to help with signal strength, and Reinke says the District is waiting on permits and Tribal input. Harris, which Reinke says supplies nearly 70% of radio systems for the military and countless other emergency districts, has been attentive to the problem and has amassed a large team of engineers and others to solve it as quickly as possible. "We have every reason to believe that they can solve and resolve this issue, but we're very unhappy that things have degraded to the point to where they are, and we need Harris, and expect Harris, and are relying on Harris, to fix the system to make it work the way that it's supposed to."
Progress is definitely being made on the issue, but Reinke says, while they've found solutions for two thirds of the list's issues, the overall effect on the system still leaves something to be desired. "That 32 item list that is down to about 10 or 12 items? They're all so intertwined that no one, specific item has proven to be the 'magic bullet.' What we've been finding is, as they check off things off the list, there's incremental improvement, but it hasn't been noticeable enough to the responders where we're satisfied."
Reinke says the District and Harris are both working hard to solve the problems as quickly as possible because officer safety is their first priority.