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Metro approves maintenance contract for radios

Las Vegas police seem to have finally found a usable radio system after nearly three years of problems with their old one.

Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee approved a maintenance contract with Motorola Solutions on Monday that will ensure that its new P25 radios and other recent technological upgrades work properly.

Over the past year, Metro switched most of its communication systems over to Motorola Solutions, Metro’s director of radio systems bureau Michael Barnbeck said. The new contract will help ensure those upgrades will stand the test of time.

Motorola’s $31.7 million contract says the company will keep software up to date via an 11-year extended warranty and life-cycle upgrades for Metro’s new radios. It also extends the same type of warranty to Metro’s 911 dispatch equipment, in-car computers and some record-keeping systems.

The department began outfitting patrol officers with the radios in August. As of of Monday, 99 percent of all officers had their new devices, and 77 percent of patrol vehicles had the new in-vehicle radios, Barnbeck said.

The agreement with Motorola comes after a failed partnership with Harris Corp., based in Melbourne, Fla., and its Desert Sky digital radio systems. That $42 million contract started in 2010.

Almost immediately after Metro started using Desert Sky, patrol officers began complaining that the radios dropped calls and had dead zones that could leave officers vulnerable and isolated.

Several times over the past three years, radio system failures forced Metro to double up officers on patrol so they wouldn’t find themselves out of radio contact in dangerous situations. Normally patrol officers ride solo.

Two years after the agreement, Sheriff Doug Gillespie informed the Harris Corp. CEO that the radio system couldn’t meet his department’s needs. Metro is currently in the middle of a lawsuit with Harris Corp. hoping to recoup $42 million.

In February, Metro approved a $26 million agreement with Motorola Solutions to outfit officers with P25 radios, considered the standard in law enforcement. The new radios are smaller than their Harris counterparts, and officers have given better reviews since their recent deployment.

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