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Thursday, September 21, 2000

SHOPO sends
clear signal about
radio malfunctions

By Jaymes K. Song

A commercial that urges citizens to let Honolulu police officers use their cellular phones because the city's two-year-old $20 million radio system does not work properly began running today on radio stations.

It is part of an advertising campaign by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers designed to pressure officials to fix the system.

"We want the public to know it's not a glitch," said Detective Alexander Garcia, SHOPO's Oahu chapter chairman. "It's critical to the officers' and the public's safety."

The advertisement asks concerned people to call Mayor Jeremy Harris or Police Chief Lee Donohue.

Television and newspaper ads may begin running next week if something is not done immediately, Garcia said. He said the union may spend up to $50,000 on the campaign.

Union officials decided on the ads following a meeting where officers were asking whether their families could sue the city, the police department or Ericsson if they are killed on duty because they were unable to call for help or communicate with other officers, Garcia said.

The city installed the $20 million Ericsson 800 MHz radio system in 1998. The system is also scheduled to be used by the Honolulu Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.

The radio has had several problems including outages, lost connections, interference, garbled sounds and a malfunctioning panic button, especially in rural Oahu.

Garcia said the officers have been promised several times that an antenna would be installed on the Leeward Coast and that the "glitches" would be worked out.

Ericsson officials could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the police department said the chief's office had no comment this morning.

E-mail to City Desk

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