Communication lifeline down for many Oklahoma police departments

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HARRAH, Okla. - Police departments are calling it a communication crisis.

For months now, police departments in the eastern part of Oklahoma County are hearing nothing but static on the other end of their radios.

"We depend on our handhelds for a lifeline, and they're dead. Our officers have no communication when they're out in their cars," said Harrah Police Chief Gary Morgan.

The primary two-way radio is down, so many departments, like Harrah, are relying on a backup system. But, the coverage does not cover the rural parts of the county.

Morgan said he can't help but worry about the safety of his officers without any lines of communications.

"This is ridiculous. These officers are in danger," Morgan said.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office maintains the two-way equipment.

"Our deputies, too, have trouble out there in the field as well in those areas," said Mark Opgrande with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office.

Opgrande said the age of the current system is to blame for the problem and they're working to quickly fix the issue.

"It's decades old, it's antiquated, it is behind the times, so to speak. So, what we're trying to do is keep this up and running as best as we can to try to support it with the funds we have to operate it," Opgrande said.

In the meantime, the county is testing out a new radio system that follows federal guidelines and is more reliable.

However, Morgan wants a solution now before an officer gets hurt.

"Everyday, I'm just praying that we don't have a situation where I have to go knocking on a family's door to let them know that their loved one won't be able to come home," Morgan said.

If the county moves to a new system, the police departments will need to buy the new radios to go with it.

Morgan said the county can't afford the cost.

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