MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police says there’s a safety issue for officers and the public all due to transmission problems with the radios used by the Miami Beach Police Department.
“Throw all of the other equipment away, the radio is our lifeline. It’s how we get information from the dispatchers. It’s how we’re able to communicate with each other. And with the dispatchers to put out the best information to be able to do our jobs and quite frankly to be safe,” said Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Kevin Millan.
Det. Millan says there’s been an issue with the radios for nearly 10 years, but over the past week, the static got so bad a lot of units could not be heard at all.
“On a very serious crime, we did have a chase from Miami Beach to outside the city and during the course of that chase, the officers were not able to communicate with dispatch and that chase had to actually be called off,” said Millan.
City of Miami Beach Public Relations Manager Melissa Berthier issued the following statement:
“Our system administrator and radio vendor have advised us that static in our radio systems began on March 14, and the cause is due to atmospheric conditions which peak intermittently during early spring between 2pm and 7pm. We are in the process of procuring a new digital radio system to update our current analog system. This should solve the problem. We are in the process of procuring a new digital radio system to update our current analog system. This should solve the problem.”
The city blamed the issue on something called tropospheric ducting.
CBS4’s Chief Meteorologist Craig Setzer says the condition is quite common throughout the United States but it usually happens between sunset and sunrise, not during the day.
“Typically, radio waves travel line of sight, from one point to another so if a radio is here, another radio nearby is going to see it. But what happens is during the night, especially cold long winter nights, or coolish long winter nights, is an inversion sets up. It traps the radio waves near the ground so not only are these radio in the air but there’s radio waves from all the other radios all over South Florida that are all taking up the same space in the atmosphere. They’re colliding with each other and creating very, very poor communication,” said Setzer.
The city says it’s going to be at least 20 months before a new radio system is put in place.
In the meantime, it’s working with the FCC to address the issue.