Cincinnati police radio, computer problems are 'a matter of life and death,' dispatcher says

Posted at 5:45 PM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 18:25:51-04

CINCINNATI -- Julie Pratt has been a Cincinnati dispatcher for 15 years. Her sister is a police officer, send out to patrol the city's streets.

Pratt said she's worried problems with a new radio system and computer-aided dispatch system put her sister's life in danger. Some city officials are left wondering if it's time for a restart.

Last month, the Cincinnati Police Department laid out a list of 22 problems it was having with an upgraded dispatching system. According to internal staff notes, the department was working with TriTech, the company behind the upgrade, to correct the issues.

The problems are gravely serious, Pratt told City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee on Monday. She described it as "a matter of life and death."

"I'm not going to lose an officer because I don't have the ability to do my job, and I'm seriously looking into that, and that's a lot of the reason I'm so passionate," she said.

If the problems aren't fixed, Pratt said she'd need to leave her job.

The computer problems are on top of months-long issues with new Motorola radios. Committee chairman Christopher Smitherman threatened to take action against both Motorola and TriTech.


"Hopefully this will put a fire under them, but they have to know that this is not a game," he said.

The Fraternal Order of Police has threatened to sue Motorola and launched a social media campaign to get the company's attention.

In a statement issued Monday, the company said:

"Motorola Solutions and the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) have been working together for the past months to ensure new remote speaker microphones (RSM) paired with new, Motorola Solutions portable radios more closely emulate the audio capabilities and functionality that CPD has been used to for many years. CPD’s new radios were deployed last summer and Motorola Solutions delivered new RSMs to CPD in January and reprogrammed some for CPD testing purposes over the past four months. The City Manager last week told the Mayor and City Council their testing was nearing completion, and on May 17 CPD gave Motorola Solutions the go-ahead to begin reprogramming the remaining fleet of radios to optimize audio and functionality capability with the RSMs so CPD officers can begin using the new communications solutions as designed."

TriTech has not responded to a request for comment.

Smitherman has asked both companies to appear before his committee.

"I hope when they come, they don't come and say 'Here's our plan to fix it.' We're looking for these matters to be resolved in the next 14 days," he said.