Board looks into whether new 911 system causes radio failures

911 director: DaneCom launch will be delayed another 6 months
Board looks into whether new 911 system causes radio failures

The Dane County 911 Advisory Board decided at a meeting Wednesday afternoon to hold a special meeting to discuss concerns about first responder radios failing.

A growing number of Dane County first responders say the radios they use to call for help are not working.

Blue Mounds Police Chief Andy Rose is going as far as saying there will be deadly consequences if the issues with the radios are not fixed.

The Dane County 911 Board decided Wednesday to hold a special meeting to discuss whether the county’s new emergency communications system, DaneCom, is causing the problems.

But at a Wednesday night meeting with citizens Dane County 911 Director John Dejung said there’s another delay and DaneCom will likely take six more months before it will launch. That’s why he also said the county is now negotiating with the system’s operator to refund their money.

Radio communication is $18 million of DaneCom’s budget. And as more and more Dane County officers are reporting radio failures that are happening in the line of duty, the 911 board plans on specifically looking at whether DaneCom’s new antennas are interfering with older radios.

During Wednesday afternoon’s 911 board meeting, Dejung said the county tested the system after concerns were raised by police in Stoughton, Mount Horeb and Blue Mounds. In Blue Mounds Rose’s radio failed while he was holding a suspect at gunpoint.

When the topic turned to emergency radio failures at the Wednesday night meeting, Dejung blamed that most recent Blue Mounds incident on maintenance.

“I think the big concern out there by the chief, by the folks is you’ve got this new thing on the block, this DaneCom thing. That must be the problem. We now know this maintenance thing was going on,” Dejung said.

Dejung told members at the afternoon meeting that during the test, they made the new DaneCom signal as strong as possible, but it did not disrupt radio signals.

But various police chiefs told Dejung that to them it seems the radio failures are becoming more frequent as DaneCom adds new radio frequencies.

Dejung said the reported radio failures are his No. 1 priority, and that he is committed to quickly finding a solution.

“There are some problems. Some of them might be problems that have occurred for years and years, and we’re just more sensitive to it now and trying to be responsive to it,” Dejung said.

Before the board’s special meeting on Sept. 30, the technical committee will meet Friday and try to document the incidents. The committee chair has requested a full report of the incidents be submitted by Wednesday.