Officers said they’re hitting “dead zones” where their cell phones and vehicle laptops get no connection. The city has warned the service provider, Sprint, to fix the problems or the company may lose the contract.
“If our officers are in an emergency or anything like that and they need help they can seek help through their radio and the communications system that they have,” said Brian Marvel, president of the Police Officers Association. “If the cars are not connected to the system downtown the dispatchers would never know that officer needs help.”
The wireless system also allows police to access maps and run warrant checks and license plates. Marvel said it’s a vitally important system, but that there have been major issues with Sprint.
“We started hearing problems that the wireless service is certain areas of the city were completely down,” said Marvel. “We were hearing that there were going to be rolling blackouts throughout the city from 15 to 20 minutes. We were finding out that it was sometimes for days.”
Assistant Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman shared the concerns at this week’s City Budget and Finance Committee meeting.
“We’ve been having issues with this for a couple years,” said Zimmerman. “Challenges, issues, concerns ongoing for a couple years now.”
Council members decided not to resign the yearly contract with Sprint unless the company fixes the problems. For now Sprint is being retained on a month-to-month basis and city leaders said if the issues are not resolved soon they could put the contract out for bid.
Sprint spokesperson Kathleen Dunleavy released the following statement regarding the issues and plans to fix them:
“The relationship with the San Diego Police Department means a lot to us and we recognize safety is of the utmost importance. There have been a few service interruptions due to the fact that we’re upgrading our network across the country. In this case we have taken action already and have an active and aggressive plan underway to fix the issues as soon as possible.”