Police: Radios ‘worthless’ for working across county lines

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – When police officers from several counties responded to an inmate riot at the Camp Hill state prison 27 years ago, one problem they faced was not having the technology to communicate.

It’s still a problem across the state. Police can communicate by radio with their 911 center and with other departments in the same county, but they can’t talk to police in other counties.

“Our radios are basically worthless,” Upper Allen police Chief James Adams said. “We cannot talk to anyone; not another car, not the 911 center.”

When Upper Allen police need help from officers outside of Cumberland County, or those officers need help from them, communication takes time. They start by radioing the 911 center.

“Their dispatcher then calls our dispatcher. Our dispatcher then dispatches it to us. And the amount of time that takes, they’re probably in the next township by then,” Upper Allen police officer James Miller said.

Adams said Cumberland County plans to upgrade its radio system, but it could take years before that happens.

“We put astronauts on the moon and we can talk to them. We have astronauts orbiting the earth and we never lose connectivity with them. But we leave the county and we can’t talk,” he said.

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