City pressed to explain new radios
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The District's chief technology officers have been asked to quell safety
concerns about new police and fire radios by publicly explaining how the $31
million communication system will be purchased and installed, Lt. Ray Sneed,
president of the firefighters union said yesterday.
Lt. Sneed met with Suzanne J. Peck, the city's chief technology officer,
and D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson yesterday to discuss problems and delays
with the implementation of the radio system.
Lt. Sneed said because Mrs. Peck could not answer all his questions, he and
Mrs. Patterson suggested Mrs. Peck have a public briefing.
"They are trying to get together and do some type of press conference," Lt.
Sneed said. "They want to show what is taking place with the system and let the
chips fall where they may.
"Everybody is in the dark, and we are all looking for answers."
He said Mrs. Peck may address the questions during Mayor Anthony A.
Williams' weekly press briefing Wednesday.
Mrs. Peck and Mrs. Patterson did not return telephone calls and could not
be reached for comment.
The meeting between Lt. Sneed, Mrs. Peck and Mrs. Patterson, chairman of
the council's Judiciary Committee, was held on the same day The Washington Times
reported that three major components of the system were eliminated from
Motorola's bid to construct the transmitters for the system.
The D.C. Office of Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), which has a $31 million
budget to build the radio system, said that the components will be contracted
out later to save money.
City officials involved with the program said that OCTO cut from the
recently approved Motorola contract the purchase of 1,200 portable radios for
the Metropolitan Police, a backup microwave-antenna system and automatic
diagnostic and alarms systems for failing transmitters and antennas.
The Times has also reported concerns about delays in construction of the
radio system, which the city must complete by September 2003 or face losing some
of the $46 million in federal Homeland Security funding designated for the new
communication system. OCTO is building the radio system for the police and fire
Lt. Sneed said he has been trying to get straight answers from OCTO
officials about how the money is being spent.
OCTO has said that $5 million of the $31 million budget for the project has
been contracted for engineering and consultants. A contract with Motorola
approved last week by OCTO consumes an additional $17 million.
Lt. Sneed said he wants reassurances from OCTO that the radio system will
be built so that firefighters can communicate with their commanders while
working inside of buildings. The current radio system, which was installed in
January 2001, has dead spots throughout the city and does not work in many large
The city believes construction of 10 antennas and a mobile repeater system
will solve the problems.
"I'm just concerned about the finished product," he said.