It can never again be blamed on a breakdown in communication. Starting Tuesday, officers with the Lubbock Police Department and the Lubbock County Sheriff's Department can communicate car to car. The joint radio system is expected to help lower crime rates in the Hub City.
It's been in the works for three years, and now, the city and the county are finally on the same wavelength. The two departments unveiled the joint 800 megahertz radio system on Tuesday. The radios allow the LPD and the LSO to remain on separate frequencies during normal times, while giving them the ability to flip to a mutual frequency during events like disasters, bad weather, and high speed pursuits.
In theory, the radios could help to stop pursuits like the one in Lubbock in 1997 before they get out of control. That chase lasted almost an hour as the impaired driver recklessly weaved in and out of traffic. Several agencies were involved, but not all of them could communicate. As a result, it was difficult knowing where and when to set up road blocks and tire spikes. The driver eventually spun out, got out of the car, pulled a gun, and was shot and killed.
"In the past, we had to depend on dispatchers communicating with each other and then relaying information to us over the radio," says Sgt. Evaristo Diaz with the LPD.
"We can actually work together as one law enforcement agency as opposed to two separate entities," says Deputy Tracy Hix with the LSO.
And the radios already have the seal of approval from the highest office in the land. They were put to the test three weeks ago with no problems when First Lady Laura Bush paid a visit to the Hub City.
Sheriff David Gutierrez says the radios have excellent reception. The system cost about $350,000 and was funded with law enforcement block grants. Police Chief Claude Jones says the next step is to try and get DPS troopers equipped with the system.