The problem-plagued Oakland police radio system -- thought to be fixed -- broke down twice between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, police said.

Wednesday's problems lasted for 20 minutes and occurred during a covert operation as Oakland police were assisting state narcotics agents with an investigation in East Oakland. Officers were able to communicate with each other directly, but not with dispatch.

Thursday morning at 10 a.m. officers were searching for three burglary suspects in the 6100 block of Hillmont Drive when the radios acted up. Officers resorted to hand signals when they were not able to communicate with each other or with dispatch.

Police rank and file had complained about the problems with the radios for some time before the equipment failed during a critical incident on Jan. 26 that involved a shooting suspect who led police on a high-speed chase on the freeway near the Oakland Coliseum and ended with officers fatally shooting one suspect after a car crash at 85th Avenue and San Leandro Street in East Oakland.

On Monday Mayor Jean Quan said the city's IT department found that last week's malfunction was caused by a timing mechanism in the dispatch system, which was adjusted last weekend.

Reached Thursday night, Quan's spokeswoman Sue Piper said workers were looking to see if the new problems were caused by the same issues, or something new.


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"Obviously, we want the radios to work," she said. "Communication in the field is critical."

Quan also said Monday that would find money to rehire 10 officers laid off last July, repair the aging fleet of patrol cars and repair or replace broken radios and computers.