Clear Communication: New Radios Help Local Cops

It's just a small step, but about a half-dozen Harris County Precinct One deputies now have Houston Police Department radio's in their patrol cars. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the goal is to make it easier for different law enforcement agencies to communicate.

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Most law enforcement agencies have their own radios and their own frequencies, making it difficult sometimes to communicate with each other. A new agreement between the Precinct One Constables office, HPD and the Near Northwest Management District puts HPD radios in six deputy's cars, improving what law officers call interoperability. Roy Millmore is the Management District's Executive Director and helped broker the deal to buy the radios and have them installed.

"This is a milestone because now for the first time in this particular district, the Constable deputies can not only interact with HPD but they can have direct communication. This is a milestone not only for officer safety but also for response time to assist those people who we serve."

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the partnership is a model for what he'd like to do throughout the city and county to make things easier for both officers and dispatchers.

"They will know where the officers are. The closest unit will respond and course the officers then have the ability to advise directly to each other whether they even need a back-up or not, broadcast descriptions of suspects as they leave the scene and enable us to do a better job in investigating and possibly apprehending the suspect."

The radio's were paid for by the Near Northwest Management District and local businesses and are used in patrol cars that are contracted with the district to provide additional security. Precinct One Constable Jack Abracia says the extra radios could save lives.

"You know the thing that people don't understand until you get into a bind that one minute sometimes may feel like an hour that the citizen is out there waiting. I look at this that two of us are working together, we can get the job done much faster and satisfy the citizen out there and possibly protect his life."

The city of Houston will soon purchase and install a $150 million dollar radio system that will be used by city police, fire and public works. By state law, the system has to be in operation by 2010 and could be paid for in part with Homeland Security funding.

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