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BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's digital radio system, used by first responders, has been plagued with issues since it was installed more than a year ago, but officials believe they're in the final stages of making it fully functional. Experts say a system rated at 3.4 would be necessary for clear hand-held radio transmissions in urban areas, like Bend.

 

Earlier this month, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter told KBND News he didn't understand why the county contracted for an underpowered system, rated at 3.0. "I really wasn’t there at that final stage. I was on the E-board and we recommended, out of the Sparling Report, a system that was 3.4 or better."
 
Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney says her board purchased they system they were asked to get, "The Board [of County Commissioners] purchased the radio system that was recommended by the Director of 911, based on information from the User Board."
 
Steve Reinke was 911 Director at the time and tells KBND News he now doesn't recall what he recommended. But, he says he believed the 3.0 system would only have minor problems in very limited places. Reinke retired from Deschutes County in March, after less than three years as Director. He starts his new job as Director of Spokane County 911 next month. 
 
Chief Porter says if he’d known the system that was ordered was not strong enough, he would’ve raised concerns before the contract was signed. But, he's now looking forward. "How do we fix this? How do we get the right system? The obvious answer is we upgrade the system to 3.4, which can be done. There is still funding left in the original project to help us upgrade this system to where it needs to be. We know that we can get there."
 
A new county technician is now reviewing the contract and system. 

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