CINCINNATI – Calling it "a matter of life and death," city leaders are backing the FOP's demand that Motorola fix problems with police radios that are interfering with urgent communication.
"We're going to be very assertive with Motorola making sure that the No. 1 thing is that we get working radios on our first responders immediately," council member Christopher Smitherman said Monday.
FOP President Daniel Hils threatened to sue Motorola if problems are not fixed, WCPO reported Sunday.
"Motorola's had some months to work on this and if their own engineers are able to fix it, then we'll see if our attorney can fix it," Hils repeated Monday.
But Smitherman, chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, and City Manager Harry Black said they don't think it will come to that.
Hils said officers started wearing this next generation of radio in April and immediately started to have concerns about the way they work. In several instances, communication was garbled and officers couldn't understand, Hils said.
That was especially dangerous when it happened following a shooting near Riverfest last month, he said. Hils said he experienced it first-hand.
"These communications were garbled and unable to be heard by other officers because I'm part of the officers who were under stress," Hils said.
"It's very critical incidences when we seem to have failures of the radios and those, of course, are the times when we need our radios - our lifelines - the most.
"These are parts of our equipment that if they don't work properly it could be a matter of life and death," Hils said.
"These are life-and-death situations and we are taking this incredibly serious," he said. "It's not a perception. Our officers are riight. There is a problem and we're going to get to bottom of it."
Black said Motorola, which charged the city more than $5 million for 1,500 radios, has made a "good faith" effort to resolve the problems.
"To date, Motorola has been working with the City in good faith to address audio quality concerns, including flying in a team of experts to ride along with CPD officers to witness and catalog the audio quality issues in the field," Black said in a memo to the mayor and council. "Despite these efforts issues remain. However, we are on a path that we believe will quickly get us to an acceptable solution."
Motorola said its technicians "will continue to work with CPD until the functionality of the radios meets CPD's expectations."
Here's the company's full statement:
"The Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) transitioned in July of this year from Motorola Solutions’ XTS 5000 radios to Motorola Solutions’ latest APX 6000 radios with updated public safety microphones. In the first week, the CPD indicated officers had expressed concerns about audio differences with the new radios.
"Motorola Solutions has worked with CPD to develop and implement programming changes to the APX 6000 that more closely emulate the audio capabilities and functionality of the XTS 5000. Motorola Solutions is working with the customer to address all issues and has provided on-site technicians to conduct audio testing and address operational questions with the radios and microphones. Technicians will continue to work with CPD until the functionality of the radios meets CPD's expectations."