More silence on police radios

For about 20 minutes today, cops in South and Southwest Philadelphia heard a whole lot of nothin’ on their Motorola radios.
There was some confusion among men and women in blue when their radios went quiet about 10 a.m., but not much surprise — the Motorola system has been plagued with many well-documented hiccups and crashes since its debut in 2002.
City Councilman Frank Rizzo said he will introduce a resolution tomorrow to have hearings on continuing problems with the multimillion dollar radio system.
Last spring, City Council voted in favor of paying Motorola $34.5 million for an upgrade of the system.
“We have to investigate what the hell is going on here,” Rizzo said last night. “It’s unacceptable.”
Police officials said Motorola workers had to perform some routine maintenance this morning at a radio tower at 31st Street and Grays Ferry Avenue.
As part of the repair work, the tower had to be shut down for 10 to 15 minutes.
“That’s not a big deal,” said police Chief Inspector Michael Feeney, “because the way our system works, you can shut down one tower, and that area will be covered by the next tower over.”
The problem: the next-closest radio tower, situated near Philadelphia International Airport, had a busted antennae.
“So, basically, we had two towers that weren’t functioning,” Feeney said.
The problem was resolved by 10:30 a.m., Feeney said, but officers in South and Southwest Philly were paired up, two cops to a cruiser, as per departmental policy, until 4 p.m.
Motorola will be repairing the tower near the airport today.
On March 24, a faulty Verizon fiber-optics line caused citywide radio probelms for patrol cops.