State approves $7.6 million for Highway Patrol radios with problems

CARSON CITY - State officials have decided to spend $7.6 million on new Nevada Highway Patrol radios even though the radios may not let troopers have car-to-car talks with some other police agencies.

Despite problems with the radios, the state Board of Examiners approved the purchase of equipment from Motorola of Sparks.

''This is a confusing mess,'' Budget Director Perry Comeaux told board members on Wednesday. ''I have received very differing opinions on what is the proper radio system.''

Gov. Kenny Guinn said he was concerned that ''Metro won't be able to talk to NHP'' in Clark County with the new radios. The governor chairs the Board of Examiners.

But Comeaux said Las Vegas police will have car-to-car communications with the Highway Patrol, although some officers may need to carry two different radios in their cars. The real problem will be with police in rural Nevada, he said.

''This is not good for Nevada,'' Guinn responded. ''All police ought to have access to the same system.''

Comeaux said the Motorola system was selected by the Legislature last year over a competing system from Ericsson. The two systems apparently are incompatible, he said.

''It was a fistfight between Motorola and Ericsson,'' Comeaux said of the legislative hearings. ''It's a confusing issue. Getting facts is a problem.''

Still, he recommended the purchase because a rejection would mean the Highway Patrol couldn't upgrade its radio communications system.

Lt. Frank Bradley of the Highway Patrol said the high-band radio system offered by Motorola is a good one and officers will not need two different radios in their vehicles. He said state officers will be able to talk with rural police. The problem will be in communicating with North Las Vegas police and the Washoe County Sheriff's Department.

He said the Department of Transportation is working to fix the problem with Washoe County, and troopers will communicate with North Las Vegas through the police dispatcher.

The $7.6 million is the last part of a $14 million purchase of Motorola radios by the state. The 800 vehicle and 800 mobile radios will be used by the Highway Patrol and by state Parole and Probation officers, the Division of Investigations and other state law enforcement officials.


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