[Posted by Jack Dunphy]
A long-festering problem within the Los Angeles Police Department is finally getting some attention. No, I’m not talking about corruption or racial profiling or any of the other evils that some like to imagine as being rampant within the department. The problem is with the portable radios officers carry, more specifically the alarming frequency with which they fail to work. This is just the latest example of how out of touch the LAPD’s higher-ups are with the cops on the street. The problems with the radios have been apparent for years to those of us who carry them every day, but for some reason the issue has suddenly found the attention of department brass, the police commission, and local news outlets. This week, we’ve seen stories in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and on KABC television about the poor state of the portable radios officers carry in the field.
The city has simply been unwilling to spend the money to replace radios that have long outlasted their predicted service life, and the LAPD now finds itself in a “crisis” it should have seen coming for years. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t have to return a radio after finding it to be somehow defective. Ordinarily I discover these defects under innocuous circumstances, like when trying to make a routine broadcast only to discover I can’t be heard. But on more than one occasion I’ve had my radio fail during a foot pursuit, when I was unable to hear or transmit information that might save my own or another officer’s life.
I recall a news story from back in June in which police commissioner Anthony Pacheco said he was “personally embarrassed” by the results of one of the hundreds of paperwork audits the department is so fond of conducting these days. Would that Mr. Pacheco and his fellow commissioners be as embarrassed to send cops out in the field with safety equipment that doesn’t work.