This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

How will governor-wanna be Barrett and Chief Flynn spin this one?


CRG Network   

  PO Box 371086 
Milwaukee, WI 53237
      
414-801-0800       
www.crgnetwork.com     
crg@crgnetwork.com

 

 

For Immediate Release                                                                                        
June 30, 2010

For Further Information Contact:

Chris Kliesmet at 414-429-9501

 

 

Media Advisory


News Conference

 


Hundreds of Officer-Reported Radio Failures


Open Records Law Uncovers Deadly Details

 


Milwaukee City Hall Lobby


200 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI

 


Thursday, July 1, 2010


10:30 am

 

CRG Network will present over 500 pages of officer-reported failures in the “OpenSky” radio system.  Officers describe in their own words situations involving vehicle chases, gang-fights, an officer shooting and armed assailants to Department leadership.  Most incidents occurred between March and May of this year.  

 

The Milwaukee Police Association and City of Milwaukee Alderman Robert Donovan have accepted an invitation to be in attendance to offer comments and answer questions.


From jsonline:

"That system has been plagued by problems, including faulty equipment and dead spots, to the extent that some police officers question whether it poses a safety hazard. A police sergeant has been suspended for 20 days after urging fellow supervisors to tell officers not to make traffic stops until the problems were fixed.


Work started on OpenSky in 2003. It was projected to cost $14.9 million and be operational by May 2005, but the price tag has reached $17.6 million - including the bonding authority - and the system only became fully operational last month. Police also plan to spend $284,220 in revenue from the sale of assets confiscated from criminal suspects and to seek additional funding in the 2011 city budget, likely pushing the final cost past $18 million.

In response, the council ordered police officials to provide an update on the system before spending the borrowed money. The borrowing authority was approved in 2005, but was due to expire if not renewed.

Ald. Joe Dudzik noted that some communities have scrapped OpenSky because of the problems they have encountered. Last year, the State of New York terminated its $2 billion contract, leading to a lawsuit by the system's manufacturer, Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems."


 

UPDATE:



 

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release July 1, 2010

For Further Information Contact:

Chris Kliesmet at 414-429-9501

Over 240 Officer-Reported Failures in

Radio System


Open Records Law Uncovers Deadly Details in Officers

Words


MILWAUKEEOfficial internal Milwaukee police documents reveal the Mayor and the police chief know police officers lives are placed in jeopardy as $20 million in radios fail in deadly situations, a citizens group announced Thursday. Now, the Mayor plans to put firefighters in the same danger.

Citizens for Responsible Government unveiled over 500 pages of officer reports of failed radios that the watchdog group received under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law. The reports reveal a radio system that regularly fails street cops in dangerous situations when calling for back up and under siege.

“It is simply a miracle that no one has been killed yet,” said Chris Kliesmet, executive director of the Wisconsin Citizens for Responsible Government. “Every one of these reports document an officer unnecessarily put at risk because the Mayor can’t fix a problem or admit to a mistake. Mr. Mayor, there is a gaping hole in OpenSky. This disaster has been on your plate for six long years. Plug the darn hole before it ‘leaks’ further damage upon citizens, police officers, and firefighters.”

One chilling report from September 30th, says:

“Dispatcher gave out the address for ‘officer shot’. She stated over Ch 14, [redacted] and the rest was garbled. Someone asked her again for the address and she stated [redacted] and again the rest of the transmission was garbled. Someone then asked, ‘You keep cutting out on the street’ …”

CRG unveiled the complaints at a news conference Thursday at City Hall.

The same radio system that is still putting police officers lives in danger is expected to be forced on Milwaukee’s firefighters next. “Mayor Barrett can’t pawn off responsibility for this mess on the police chief anymore,” said Kliesmet. “Once this broken system goes to the fire department, responsibility rests solely with the guy in charge of both departments.”

“We call on Mayor Tom Barrett to block the use of these radios for any other public service agency until they work,” Kliesmet said. “Putting more of the people who protect us at unnecessary risk is unthinkable.” 

In November the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported: “A digital radio system that has cost the Milwaukee Police Department about $17.5 million since 2003 still is not fully operational, and the system's dispatch consoles - which cost a total of $1.9 million and were installed in 2004 - are becoming obsolete and must be replaced by 2012.”

The Journal Sentinel went on to report: “Florida-based Harris Corp., which bought the radio system's manufacturer this year, said in an e-mailed statement that it is committed to making the system work. The company is ‘working closely with MPD to develop the best path forward for replacing the consoles over time,’ according to the statement.”

Citizens for Responsible Government filed an open records request for street officer reports of radio failures. “What we found in stunning,” Kliesmet said. “On a daily basis, our cops are dealing with radios that fail in deadly situations. We’re heading into the dog days of summer – when crime spikes – and we need to make sure the men and women who protect us are protected. Providing radios that work for our police officers and firefighters is a basic function of our government. This is simply unacceptable.”

Kliesmet showed a timeline demonstrating the Mayor and Police Chief have approached this as a PR problem and offered talk and more spending instead of solutions to protect officers. “The fact is, the Mayor and Police Chief have only been protecting their own backsides and not their officers,” said Kliesmet. “After years of broken deadlines, cost overruns and warnings from cops on the street, the system is still broken and officers are still at risk.”

“The police chief has watched out for himself and the Mayor. Who watches out for the hundreds of cops on the street?” said Kliesmet referring to the reports documenting officers put at risk.


Milwaukee  Police  Department  OpenSky  Radio  

System  Timeline  

  

2003  Milwaukee  police  began  the  switch  from  an  analog  radio  system  to  the  digital  system  in  2003  in  an  effort  to  comply  with  moified  federal  regulations  regarding  radio  communications  that  take  effect  in  2013.   The  regulations  do  not  require  law  enforcement  agencies  to  use  a  digital  system,  but  many  agencies  are  switching  from  analog  as  digital  radio  technology  develops.  

   

Initial  proposal  was  for  $14.9  million  and  to  have  the  system  on  line  by  May  2005.  

  

2005  Deadline  for  OpenSky  activation  pushed  back  from  May  to  November  2005.    

Milwaukee  Common  Council  approved  borrowing  an  additional  $952,000  for  the  project     

Deadline  pushed  back  from  November  2005  to  January  2006  

  

2006  Deadline  pushed  back  from  January  2006  to  June  2006     

Deadline  pushed  back  from  June  2006  to  August  2007  

  

2010  OpenSky  goes  on  line  February  2010    

OpenSky  taken  off  line  after  numerous  system  failures,  including  dead  spots  in  the  city  that  were  supposed  to  have  coverage.    

  

Chief  Flynn  issues  memo  apologizing  to  department  for  OpenSky’s  continued  failure  to  perform:  “[A]s  frustrating  as  the  change  process  has  been,  I  am  simply  not  in  a  position  to  discard  Open  Sky.  This  has  been  a  seven???year  project  that  has  cost  over  $17  million  in  taxpayer  money.  It  is  a  sunk  cost.  I  owe  you,  as  police  officers  and  taxpayers,  my  best  efforts  to  get  a  value  return  on  that  investment,  one  that  simply  cannot  be  remade,  in  the  current  economic  environment,  with  new  money.  I  can  say  with  absolute  certainty,  that  we  have  made  more  progress  in  the  last  twelve  months  than  in  the  preceding  six  years.”  (February  10,  2010)  

  

Milwaukee  Police  Department  hired  consulting  firm  Federal  Engineering  Inc.  to  monitor  implementation  of  the  radio  system.   New  York  State  hired  the  same  company  before  terminating  its  contract  for  the  OpenSky  system.   MPD  has  paid  Federal  Engineering  nearly  $149,000  for  the  first  phase  of  the  contract,  according  to  city  documents.  The  department  is  due  to  pay  about  $135,000  for  the  contract's  second  phase.  The  entire  contract  is  being  paid  through  the  proceeds  of  assets  forfeited  to  the  Police  Department,  according  to  city  documents.  

  

A  Common  Council  committee  recommended  reauthorizing  the  $952,000  on  March  19,  2010.   Reauthorization  required  because  money  has  not  been  spent.


 

Milwaukee Cops’ Radio Silence

Quietly Staring Death in the Eye

 

Official internal Milwaukee police documents reveal the Mayor and the police chief know cops lives are placed in jeopardy as $20 million in radios failed in deadly situations, a citizens group announced Thursday. Now, the Mayor plans to put firefighters in the same danger.

Below is a sampling of actual police comments about the failed radio system from Milwaukee Police Radio Trouble Reports: 


Sep. 30, 2009 –“Dispatcher gave out the address for ‘officer shot’. She stated over Ch 14, [redacted] and the rest was garbled. Someone asked her again for the address and she stated [redacted] and again the rest of the transmission was garbled. Someone then asked, ‘You keep cutting out on the street …”
 

Jan. 15, 2010 -- “During the execution of a search warrant, [the sergeant] used portable radio from the above location to report various stages of the process . . . all I heard was clicking and hissing and was unable to understand any part of his transmission nor was I even sure any meaningful transmission was taking place.”

Jan. 26, 2010 -- Officers involved in car chase shortly after 8 p.m. “The pursuit lasted 6.6. miles . . . and reached speeds exceeding 70 miles an hour . . . . Initially, we were unable to get on the air, due to a citywide broadcast that was taking place . . . We were given the air to broadcast by the dispatcher, at which time I was able to give our location, and direction of travel . . . As other squads responded to our chase, I was unable to get on the air. The radio continually beeped as I tried key the microphone. The radio would also emit a steady beep as I attempted to continue the broadcast.”

Feb. 3, 2010 -- “It wasn’t until the entire footchase and arrest procedure was over that my partner was able to use his working radio to transmit pertinent information to the dispatcher.”

April 7, 2010Officers in the basement with suspects along with five Milwaukee Firefighters. A 300-pound woman fights them. "Numerous attempts to get through to dispatch were unsuccessful. I was attempting to call for a squad with a taser and the wagon with shackles . . . It took [two officers] and five Milwaukee Fire Department firefighters to restrain this female who was biting, spitting, kicking, punching . . . [One officer] actually had to go leave me, go upstairs and outside the residence to get on the radio to call for help. This was an extreme safety concern for myself, my partner and the MFD firefighters."

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