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Police Radio Limitations Impacting Oklahoma Officers

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Law enforcement authorities in central Oklahoma tell News 9 talking on radios across agency lines is a real problem officers face on a daily basis. Law enforcement authorities in central Oklahoma tell News 9 talking on radios across agency lines is a real problem officers face on a daily basis.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

An OHP plane crash blamed on limited radio communication is sparking concern over the need for easier access to shared frequencies among Oklahoma law enforcement officials.

8/2/2013 Related Story: NTSB Releases First Report On Plane Crash That Hurt Oklahoma Trooper

Law enforcement authorities in central Oklahoma tell News 9 talking on radios across agency lines is a real problem officers face on a daily basis.

"We don't monitor … we can't hear [OHP and county] in our normal operations," Harrah's police chief Gary Morgan said.

Oklahoma City, the state's largest police department, has the money to monitor many different frequencies. However, for most departments the needed equipment is out of reach.

Most smaller departments' budgets will not allow for the technology. However, some communication improvements are being made. In Harrah, a new repeater tower is expected to help with daily communication, but there are still limitations without instant access to shared frequencies.

"We don't have [Oklahoma City's] 800 frequency capabilities to talk directly to them from ours, but they have that equipment in their vehicles to where they can switch over and talk to us," said Morgan.

Many departments are able to communicate with OHP and sheriff's offices only when agencies coordinate a shared frequency ahead of time. Tecumseh says it is able to talk across agency lines but admits officers don't do it on a regular basis … running the risk of things falling apart during tense situations.

The NTSB is expected to release a final report on the OHP plane crash near Tecumseh within the next year. One trooper was seriously injured in the July crash. The NTSB says a lack of radio communication capabilities forced the trooper to fly low and slow to point out a suspect to officers on the ground.

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