The Director of the Mobile County Communications District, better known as the 911 Director, says installation of new radios in police and emergency vehicles is on schedule, despite the fact that a thousand of them still sit in a warehouse 21 months after they were purchased.
The 911 Board has called for an investigation into the $40 million contract it signed with Harris Communications in September, 2013. The contract called for Harris to improve existing towers, install new ones, and put in new 700 megahertz radios in all police cars, fire engines, and ambulances in the county.
“We welcome the investigation and whatever they find, if there’s been any mistake, we’ll correct it and move forward,” said Gary Tanner, 911 Director.
About a thousand radios worth 5 million-dollars are sitting in the Hurricane Electronics warehouse in Chickasaw, 21-months after the contract was signed. Hurricane is Harris’ local service provider.
“I have 13 vehicles and not the first one has a new radio,” Citronelle Police Chief Shane stringer told News 5.
And Citronelle is not alone. Police in Prichard, Chickasaw, Saraland, and Satsuma don’t have any either.
“We weren’t aware of it at all,” said Satsuma Police Chief Chris McLean.
“I’m not sure why they didn’t know it,” said Tanner when asked about the situation. “If it’s our fault we’ll be glad to bring everybody up to speed who wants to be.”
But Tanner says radio installation is on schedule. About 120 Mobile County Sheriff’s Deputy cars have gotten the radios as part of a trial run. Tanner says the 700 megahertz system was never meant to “go live” until 2016.
“In fact, we won’t even start putting those radios in those small municipalities until January,” said Tanner.
As for criticism that the 2-year-warranties on those radios runs out in September, months before the system goes live, Tanner says he’s negotiating with Harris to change the start date for coverage from purchase to installation.
“We will insist the best be provided in the warranty,” said Tanner. “Have no fear. We’ll take care of that.”
Meantime, a five-person panel will begin Thursday investigating the contract with Harris: how it was bid and how it has been executed. News 5 has learned the panel will consist of two retired FBI agents, a retired IRS agent, a former public examiner, and a private consultant. The investigation should take about a month to complete.