A Washington State Patrol officer was attacked in Pacific County, and no other officers could hear his cries for help.
Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson wrote that on Tuesday night, a trooper pulled over a vehicle to tell the driver that he had a headlight out, and the driver resisted and assaulted the officer. Due to changes in laws, no other officer could hear him on the radios they carry.
“It was extremely disconcerting that during the entire drive to the scene I knew that I no longer had any way to hear any transmissions directly from the trooper, including his second call that help was urgently needed. This is unacceptable, period.”
Sheriff Johnson said that the cause of the miscommunication is due to a change at the state level in using “narrowband” radio frequencies. A change that Johnson said is “to create more frequencies to be sold on the commercial market” and this change has significantly impacted police communications.
The Washington State Patrol switched their radios to narrowband within the last 2 weeks, delaying the switch because the new frequencies created dead spots throughout Pacific County.
WSP has attempted to fix the issue by putting in new radio towers to fix the problem, but there are still areas where no other law enforcement, or even Dispatch, can hear them.
Dispatch was able to communicate with other officers in this instance, and the man who assaulted the officer was arrested and booked into jail.
“Nobody, including the violator got hurt. But this incident highlights the significant impact of the actions the FCC took when it required law enforcement agencies to spend thousands of dollars to change over our radio systems to narrow band,. and at the same time significantly diminish the quality of our radio communications systems that took many years to build.”
Johnson says that they are looking for a solution to the problem, but their office is looking for a cost effective way to make the change.
“I’m just glad that this time everything worked in our favor, and many thanks to everyone involved for a job well-done.”