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Phila. to spend $34.5 million on police radio system

Philadelphia is on its way to getting an improved radio emergency system.

Philadelphia Police Officer Chris Purnell wears a Motorola radio during a memorial service in honor of fallen police officers and firefighters in May. A four-year extension to the city's current contract with Motorola Corp. was approved by a City Cuncil committee today. (David Maialetti / Staff File Photo)
Philadelphia Police Officer Chris Purnell wears a Motorola radio during a memorial service in honor of fallen police officers and firefighters in May. A four-year extension to the city's current contract with Motorola Corp. was approved by a City Cuncil committee today. (David Maialetti / Staff File Photo)Read more

Philadelphia is on its way to getting an improved radio emergency system.

A City Council committee today voted in favor of extending its current contract with Motorola Corp. for four years and $34.5 million. The measure now awaits a vote by the full Council.

Though costly, the upgrade is necessary because of the system's unreliability for the police officers and fire fighters who use it. Councilman Frank Rizzo, the most outspoken critic of the current system and its failures, was absent at the hearing, held by the Public Property and Public Works Committee.

Councilman Bill Green questioned why there was no request for proposals issued to replace the current Motorola system, saying that may have led to a cheaper alternative. Administration officials responded that issuing an RFP now could delay necessary improvements to the system by a year or more. The current contract expires next June, but if approved by Council in the next few weeks, upgrades would begin in July or August.

      - Marcia Gelbart