Police and emergency forces in Colorado still lack a universal radio system for use in emergencies, even though a $130 million system was purchased, according to officials. They say 400 of 800 state agencies have yet to connect to the new system. Some say the legislature is at fault because it approved millions of dollars for new radios in the wake of the Columbine High School shootings but neglected to specify that they must be compatible.

State Sen. Dan Grossman (D) blames state administrators for entering into a sole-sourced contract with Motorola to create a digital trunk radio system after the majority of cities spent millions creating their own systems.

Dana Hansen, who manages Denver's police radio system, says Denver and adjacent cities have a technology that can resolve the issue--a $2 million patch from Network First that could connect Denver's system to the state's. Hansen forecasts that after the state invests $29 million to help reconcile gaps in urban and rural communities, the system will reach 90 percent interoperability by 2007.

A mock drill will be held later this year to test how the patch works, says Hansen; Denver agencies and other divisions spent some six months reprogramming radios and providing training to officers.

Grossman, meanwhile, has proposed legislation calling for local agencies to develop "interoperability plans" and submit them to the state's emergency management division; agencies failing to do so would have their grants withheld.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Rocky Mountain News (04/24/06) P. 18A; Washington, April M.; Ensslin, John C.