Different Dispatch Systems Causing Problems For Police

Some major communication issues are being delt with after serious problems arose at a police standoff.

Pasco and Franklin County work on a VHF radio system and Benton County and the rest of the area all operate on a 800 Mega Hertz digital system.

It is like one county being on AM radio and the other one FM and they can't communicate with each other.

It has been an issue for awhile now but the seriousness of the probem came to light during last Wednesday's standoff when a bullet came inches from Kennewick Cmdr. Scott Child's head.

As the shooting escalated Pasco police radioed in for backup.

The only problem was all responding units from Kennewick, Richland and Benton County couldn't communicate with the Pasco PD and didn't know where the shooter was or where the bullets were coming from.

Officers had to walk around and hand Pasco officers 800 Mega Hertz radios so they could communicate with everyone else.

"Officers didn't get the radio communication as quickly as they should have even if we would've had enough radios to go around which we didn't," said Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner.

Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger said being on the VHF radio system isn't safe for Pasco police officers.

He siad his officers can't even get a radio signal in about 30% of town.

He said being on two different systems also effects 911 calls.

If you are calling from Pasco but hitting off of a cell tower in Kennewick your call may go to the wrong dispatch center and have to be re-directed.

He siad this happens to 3-5% of all 911 calls in the Tri-Cities.

"3-5% doesn't sound like a lot but when you figure in that there is 85,000 calls going into both dispatch centers a year that's about 300 to 4000 calls every year being misdirected," siad Metzger.

Metzger said Pasco is all on board to having one consolidated system with Benton County, but Franklin County is not.

Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim said sticking with the VHF system is in the best interest of his officers and the people he serves.

"Right now I have over 90% coverage with VHF in the county, and that's more than you can do with 800," he siad.

Lathim said Wednesday's communication break down is not his fault, and he offered to put a 800 Mega Hertz patch into Franklin County's VHF system.

Metzger said this would only be a temporary solution and if pasco made the switch to 800 Mega Hertz but Franklin County did not then they would run into the same problems.