Atlanta officials say they need a $41 mil radio overhaul

By Eric Stirgus
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA Atlanta officials made a two-hour pitch Monday to City Council members that a new $41.6 million radio system will help authorities communicate better with police and fire officials across the region.

The city wants the council to approve a 10-year lease with Motorola to replace Atlanta's 12-year-old analog system with a digital system being used in Cobb County. The Motorola system is being installed in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

Some council members peppered officials with questions about the system's long-term effectiveness, considering the lightning-quick pace of changes in technology.

"Ten years is a long time," Councilwoman Anne Fauver said during the meeting attended by Motorola officials.

City officials said Motorola will provide system upgrades during the life of the proposed lease. They said the upgrade is necessary because the current system may not work effectively when the Police Department moves its headquarters. City officials also believe the new system will help Atlanta police avoid some of the problems encountered in the early moments after the March 11, 2005, courthouse shootings, when more than a half-dozen law enforcement agencies couldn't talk with each other on their police radios as they pursued suspect Brian Nichols.

"We must do this system. We have no alternatives," Atlanta deputy chief operating Officer Luz Borrero told the council. "This system is critical to our public safety and operating system department."

City Council members may vote on the system next week.

Copyright 2007 Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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