BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners got an update from the Deputy Director of 911, Wednesday, on the troubled law enforcement radio system. The countywide system was upgraded last summer and has been plagued with problems, including reports of garbled and lost transmissions, forcing officers to use cell phones to contact dispatchers, in some cases.
Commissioner Tony DeBone is optimistic that ongoing efforts to fix problems are on the right track. He tells KBND News, "The system is working, it’s functioning 24 hours a day, hundreds and thousands of calls are going through it. There’s a subset of these voice communications that aren’t acceptable." He adds, "We’re optimizing the system; working with the engineer on this. And, it’s at a point where it does need to be fixed. Deschutes County Commissioners are the governing body for 911, we have strong management and also our engineering support from Harris, but this has been going on a little too long and we need to get this clarified and fixed."
County Commissioners are scheduled to meet with representatives from Harris, the system’s manufacturer. "We’re going to talk about it again on Monday in preparation. So, really, what are the questions? What are the expected response to our priority of getting this fixed? And, what can we do to make sure we’re prepared for it. Then, next Wednesday at our work session is when we’re meeting with the Harris company - they’re corporate representatives, the suppliers of the system - to really get down to it."
Engineers are still evaluating possible locations for another transmission tower, and they’re looking at adding capacity at existing sites to improve signal strength. DeBone says it’s important to note the problems are only with police radios, "When you call 911, that is not the problem. The phone lines and all the systems, the dispatchers, the communications to that point, everything is working fine."