April 8, 2013
(West Palm Beach, FL) – The City of West Palm Beach has announced it will begin talks to remain in the police radio consortium, as long as a more reliable technology is part of the discussion.
Members of the City Commission today agreed to pursue a possible deal that would keep the City in the consortium while allowing the City to upgrade to what experts says is a safer, more reliable technology.
Back In November, the City announced it would continue discussions with the Harris Corporation in order to see if a proposal could be drafted that would address all the City’s previous safety concerns regarding the consortium’s current technology.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Police Chief Vincent Demasi have been among those who had previously expressed serious concerns over the technology being used by the consortium. The technology was found to have dead zones where communication with officers was not possible, as well as found to have difficulty penetrating buildings in the city.
Chief Demasi said in November that a different system recommended by the experts (known as a P-25 system) is the proven workhorse of the industry, while the consortium’s current technology had been prone to failure. The new plan includes the P-25 technology.
“You get into a life and death struggle with an individual and you’re by yourself, all you have is a radio and sometimes you only get a few seconds,” said Chief Demasi. “Whatever it is you might be trying to relay has to come across clearly so other officers and dispatchers can send help. I simply don’t have that confidence in [the consortium's] system.”
As a result of talks between Harris and the City, a possible solution is on the table. According to a new report to the city by an independent consultant hired by the City, Harris would agree to “replace the City’s existing [system] with a [P-25] design that provides a guaranteed 95% coverage within the WPB limits.”
The report was prepared by Tusa Consulting, one of the industry’s leading firms. It says that the new plan “provides a public safety radio system that will safely meet the needs of the users on the street,” and goes on to conclude “the revised Harris proposal offers the best option for the City of West Palm Beach.”
“We are looking forward to the possibility of remaining in the consortium as long as two things are accomplished,” said city Director of Communications Elliot Cohen. “Those two things are, first and foremost, assurance that our officers’ safety is protected. Second is a comfort level that we are able to maintain control over our own P-25 system.”
Following the decision today by the City Commission, members of the City staff will now move ahead with discussions involving the consortium and Harris.