FOP looks into lawsuit against Motorola over radios, safety concerns

Sunday, October 9th 2016, 7:47 am PDT

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)

The leader of the Cincinnati police union has directed their lawyer to look into suing industry leader Motorola over $5 million in radios the city issued to officers earlier this year.

Sgt. Dan Hils, president of Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police Queen City Lodge No. 69, tells FOX19 NOW the radios are faulty and put the city’s first responders and, ultimately, the public at risk.

Hils took to the FOP Facebook page on Sunday to announce problems with the radios and the union’s possible lawsuit against Motorola.

“The ability to communicate reliably and instantly is a matter of life or death to police officers in the field,” he posted on the Fraternal Order of  Police’s Facebook page. “I feel Motorola Inc. and possibly some members of the city administration are liable to this threat to our officer’s safety. No matter the cost, this problem must be fixed immediately before there is a tragedy.”

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black said he is aware of the issue. He said city officials are pursuing the company to resolve the problem.

“When you’re talking about any piece of equipment that is being used by our police department, time is of the essence and we are aggressively engaging Motorola. We’ll continue to do so,” he told FOX19 NOW on Sunday.

Motorola officials released a prepared statement and declined interviews Monday.

“The Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) transitioned in July of this year from Motorola Solutions’ XTS 5000 radios to Motorola Solutions’ latest APX 6000 radios with updated public safety microphones,” the statement reads. “In the first week, the CPD indicated officers had expressed concerns about audio differences with the new radios.

“Motorola Solutions has worked with CPD to develop and implement programming changes to the APX 6000 that more closely emulate the audio capabilities and functionality of the XTS 5000.

“Motorola Solutions is working with the customer to address all issues and has provided on-site technicians to conduct audio testing and address operational questions with the radios and microphones. Technicians will continue to work with CPD until the functionality of the radios meets CPD’s expectations.”

Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman asked city administrators for an update on the radios at Monday morning’s Law & Pubic Safety Committee meeting.

“I think there are problems,” Smitherman told FOX19 NOW, adding that he put the radio issue at the top of the meeting agenda. “I hope we can resolve any issues with the system without a legal battle.”

Smitherman and Council Members Kevin Flynn and Yvette Simpson all agreed officers must have properly working radios as soon as possible.

If Motorola can’t do it, Simpson said, the city should get radios from another company.

“The most important thing is that we have working radios for our cops,” Flynn said.

City officials reiterated to the committee they are working with Motorola to resolve the issue and will continue to pursue a solution.

“These radios have been failing at the most critical times,” Hils told the committee when Smitherman asked him to come to the microphone and outline his concerns.

Calling the radios officers’ “lifelines,” Hils told council members the FOP’s goal is not necessarily to sue Motorola.

The union, Hils said, would rather force the company to fix the radios at once than have to pursue legal action.

He called on city officials to “get aggressive” with Motorola to fix the problems once and for all. Otherwise,he warned the committee, the FOP will have no choice but to take legal action to protect its officers.

A few hours after the meeting ended, Black’s spokesman released a memo he wrote to City Council and Mayor John Cranley to update them on the situation.

“Motorola has been working with the City in good faith to address audio quality concerns, including flying in a team of experts to ride along with CPD officers to witness and catalog the audio quality issues in the field. Despite these efforts issues remain. However, we are on a path that we believe will quickly get us to an acceptable solution,” the memo states.

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