Police officers in Oakland can find themselves out of radio contact with the rest of the force for minutes on end, and the dead zones are affecting officers multiple times per day.

The persistent communication problems come despite millions of dollars of investment into upgrades to the city’s radio infrastructure. It’s so bad that some are considering abandoning the new system all together and joining a regional approach. Forty public safety agencies that neighbor the city have all joined in on their system. The radios currently being used in Oakland are compatible.

The coverage is so bad that it’s estimated that police lose contact in 80 percent of commercial buildings. There’s even a dead area in the police headquarters.

To make matters worse, the Oakland system is not compatible with the neighboring agencies. In the event of a mutual aid situation, the forces won’t be able to communicate with one another.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Oakland police Lt. Fred Mestas is haunted by the day he came face-to-face with a robbery suspect who appeared to have a concealed shotgun, went to his radio to summon backup and got nothing but silence.

The dreaded “CC scan” readout on his radio confirmed the obvious: He was in a dead spot where his transmission was somehow blocked. The silence lasted an agonizing 2 1/2 minutes.

Read the full article here.