WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Office of Inspector General for Palm Beach County released an audit today of the OpenSky public safety radio system. They decided to look into the issue, after a number of problems were identified with the system.
The report outlines problems with the radio system that could jeopardize public safety and also highlights millions of dollars in tax payer funds that were wasted.
Many cities and towns in Palm Beach County decided to switch to the new high tech system called OpenSky back in 2000 and joined what's called the Municipal Public Safety Communications Consortium.
However, only 5 municipalities decided to actually sign on including Palm Beach Gardens Police, Palm Beach, Atlantis, Jupiter and Juno beach. But the report shows officials involved in the deal didn't check to see if the system worked properly until after the contract was signed in 2006.
Plus, the report shows they paid most of the bills to the radio company before the actual testing of the radios took place. Also the Inspector General says some tests were actually skipped altogether. The report shows the radios often don't work well inside or around tall buildings.
In fact, the audit shows 69% of the local officers surveyed said they've had radio problems that could impact public safety. That's why two weeks ago, the city of West Palm Beach decided to not use the new system. Even though they already spent 5 million dollars in tax payer funds.
"The reality is there was money that was spent from the city, it's money that was spent on a system that at least at this point, we're not going to go with," said city of West Palm Beach Spokesperson Elliot Cohen. "From our perspective the safety of the officers is more important than recouping any dollars and cents that we've already put into it," he said.
The City's now looking for a new system.
The Inspector General suggests starting a new committee for all of Palm Beach County so all police departments can move forward in the future.