SDPD: Poor cell and wireless service is putting police in danger

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego police officials said bad cell and wireless service is putting their officers in danger.

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.

In the field, officers depend on wireless service. Their cell phones and the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) in their vehicles allow them to be in constant communication no matter where they are.

“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.”


    • guest

      It seems this article is about the lack of coverage from sprint. Not Verizon… Sprints coverage is dropping all over So. Cal… Another cell company bites the dust! See ya sprint!


    Sprint is the worse cell phone company on in the entire country! The cellular coverage is weak and spotty all over San Diego County. After contacting Sprint, customer service has told me on three separate occasions the area around my home is below what the average cellular signal should be. This story is just an eye opener for anyone looking into sign a two year contract with Sprint.

    DON'T SIGN UP WITH SPRINT!!! They S U C K, both the cellular service and customer service!!!

    • Lisa Macharian

      Thanks for the info, I was going to get a new I-phone thru sprint today. Not now… AT&T here I come.

  • Grandma Smith

    Our police deserve the best! It seems that SPRINT is not up to the job, time for a new service company that will provide the best for our law enforcement.

  • Shawana

    Looks like sprint is going down hill fast, cant even support the local popo. Never liked sprint anyways.

  • Anonymous

    Cops can’t call for help??? How about using that multi million dollar 2 way trunked radio system? Another case of wasted money…

  • Guest

    They can't call for help on those expensive 2 way trunked radios that cost millions to replace the old UHF system?

  • SD4116

    “There have been a few service interruptions” says the Sprint representaive.

    Try multiple interruptions, EVERY night, in just about every car. Most of these interruptions not only cut communications, but waste time when officers are forced to reboot systems multiple times in a shift.

    And it’s not just the officers in danger folks, citizens needing help are suffering too.

  • It's me!

    Oh this does not look od for sprint. Bad press can bury a company. Sprints coverage area is not very good.

  • mpenn

    I don’t even know why they would tell the public this. That’s burnt. It seems like its something they should keep to until they work it out.

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