Metro settles lawsuit over failed radios but details kept secret

Metro has settled a yearslong, multimillion-dollar legal battle over a failed communications system earlier this month, but officials won’t talk about the details of the resolution.

Court records show Las Vegas police reached a settlement with Harris Corp., but the only detail included on the record is that each party is responsible for their own legal costs.

Lawyers on both sides — James Whitmire and James Jimmerson for Metro and Jeff Silvestri and Kristen Gallagher for Harris Corp. — failed to return multiple phone calls and emails this week.

Metro stayed mum as well.

“Unfortunately our department is prohibited from speaking about this settlement,” a department spokesman said Thursday, adding that it was because of the terms of the settlements.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak thinks it’s odd that a settlement involving a public agency would be kept under wraps. He said he was told the lawsuit had been resolved but none of the details.

“That seems strange. I can’t imagine why it would be kept confidential,” said Sisolak, who serves on the Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs. “It’s definitely in the millions of dollars.”

The department first began looking for a new radio system in 2006 when officials realized their analog Motorola system did not fit all of the agency’s needs. Metro awarded the contract to M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc., which was acquired in 2009 by Harris Corp., a Florida-based corporation billed as the leading supplier of radios to the U.S. military.

Attorneys later would say in court documents that the department bought a lemon. For $42 million.

Dead zones and dropped transmissions posed serious risks for officers. Then-sheriff Doug Gillespie began the process of pulling out of the deal in 2012.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo did not return calls for comment. He said in March, when the department finished implementing a $57.4 million, 11-year deal for a digital Motorola system, that radio systems are a cop’s lifeline. There are more than 3,400 Metro personnel scattered across 7,900 square miles of Clark County, and they do up to 55,000 “push-to-talks” a day, he said.

Metro filed a lawsuit against Harris in September 2013 to recoup the $42 million the agency lost. Department lawyers cited fraud and breach of contract.

Sisolak said he hopes the details of the settlement are made by public by the next Fiscal Affairs meeting, in about three weeks.

“That’s against everything I believe in and everything Metro should stand for, and that’s transparency,” he said.

Contact Wesley Juhl at and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl

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