Police radio calls facing capacity challenges, communications between officers and dispatch affected
Max Wark, CTV Kitchener
Published Friday, August 16, 2019 4:55PM EDT
Waterloo Regional Police Service radio calls are facing capacity challenges, resulting in less than optimal communications between front line officers and dispatch.
The problem comes down to the system, which is 25 years old, and radio communications have made huge advances since it was built.
Officers can get calls from dispatch and can talk radio-to-radio on patrol. But they can't radio back to dispatch.
"It's critical that the cars in service can get back to dispatch. They may get sent to a shoplifter and it's not a shoplifter, it's a guy with a knife or a gun," says Chris Lewis, CTV’s public safety analyst.
As a result, officers have had to double up on patrols for safety reasons.
Police wouldn't say whether or not fewer cruisers on the road have affected safety.
"We do not publicly disclose specific operational deployment details to preserve both officer and public safety," says Insp. Mark Crowell.
He also says an osprey nested on one of the system's six towers, requiring a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources to have it removed.
In an email, the ministry says a permit isn't required by the force and that the nest will be removed next week.
The force also isn't saying how much these capacity challenges with the radio system are costing taxpayers.
In June, the force's finance report noted overtime is $1.2 million dollars over budget due to staffing shortages and major crimes.
Local fire departments and Grand River Transit use the same system but they say they aren't facing the same issues.
Police say the current radio system will be replaced by a $30 million system next year.