OAKLAND -- A proposal to begin repairing Oakland's ailing public safety radio infrastructure has come under fire from the police union, which has been furious over the system's poor performance.

Sgt. Barry Donelan, who heads Oakland's police union, urged two council committees this week against approving more than $3 million for the radio system.

"I have no confidence in the system," he said. "I have no confidence that a $3 million expenditure will make it better."

Council members said they were frustrated by the system's frequent failures and the city's switch to a digital technology two years ago. They decided to hold off on recommending the expenditure and will revisit the issue later this month.

The police union considers the system a threat to officer safety and has been urging the city to scrap it and join a public safety radio consortium that includes nearly every city in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. But relations between the city and the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority are strained, in part because the network has refused to program Oakland radios to work on its system during an emergency.

Union officials fear that repairs to Oakland's radio system, which famously failed during President Barack Obama's visit last year, would make the city less open to joining the regional consortium.

But city officials said the improvements, which include providing backup power generators and curing static issues at dispatch centers, would be required even if the city did switch systems.


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"Our biggest concern is that these systems may fail and put our men and women in the field at risk," Assistant City Administrator Scott Johnson told council members.