You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Governor Larry Hogan wades into Montgomery County's emergency radio system debate

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 6/20/2019 John Henry
a star in the background © Provided by TEGNA Inc.

WASHINGTON -- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan waded into the debate over improving the emergency radio system in Montgomery County, M.

The radio system came into the spotlight over Mother's Day weekend when emergency crews experienced a 14-hour-long partial outage.

Some Montgomery County authorities have expressed concerns the area could experience a "catastrophic failure" in the future when trying to respond to emergencies.

Governor Larry Hogan wrote a statement regarding the issue Wednesday afternoon:

"As governor, I am committed to making sure that our law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders are equipped with the technology they need to do their jobs. Reliable communications can mean the difference between life and death. Inexplicably, some Montgomery County officials are considering standing in the way of a radio tower that is critical to our first responders. This comes after a 14-hour outage over Mother's Day weekend and firefighters raising concerns that the current system is 'at grave risk of catastrophic failure.' I proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our firefighters on addressing this public safety emergency."

PREVIOUS: 'That's your lifeline' | Montgomery County emergency crews manage radio problems over Mother's Day weekend

Some Montgomery County officials view the problem as two-fold. First, there's the old radio network which helps push calls around the system. Some county officials say steps are being taken to replace it by the end of the year.

"The parts that caused the instability are being addressed," said Sonny Segal, the Chief Information Officer of Department of Technology Services in Montgomery County.

The second issue involves the county's plan to install new radio sites in the region. Leaders initially expressed interest in having 22 radio towers in Montgomery County to improve the overall radio system. But, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich's administration recently expressed concerns with the placement of two of those sites citing feedback from the community.

Elrich's spokesperson, Barry Hudson, responded to Governor Hogan's statement Wednesday evening:

"The County Executive is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the people of Montgomery County are safe.  Every action that he has taken to improve the public safety communication system over the last few months has been done with a sense of urgency and concern for public safety.  This administration inherited a County public safety communications system that is over 20 years old and long overdue for an upgrade.  We have been working to implement a new system that was planned by the previous administration and scheduled to be fully operational by December 2020.  The consideration of alternative sites for two of the planned towers in no way jeopardizes the public safety system today.  In fact, the Elrich administration has taken significant steps to strengthen the existing system and improve its stability so that people are safe.  We have improved hardware, and will be adding redundant hardware and upgraded software to enhance the current system.  These enhancements were not planned prior to County Executive Elrich taking office. We continue to vigorously test contingency plans for minor and major scenarios.  These improvements as well as the extra training and preparation that our public safety personnel instituted has better prepared us to address emergency situations.  As a result of these efforts, the County is in a better place.  However, we will continue engage the community and do what is needed to ensure that the people of this County are safe from now until the new system is completed in 2020.  To be clear, the Elrich administration will never compromise the safety of the people of Montgomery County."  


More from WUSA-TV

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C.
WUSA-TV Washington, D.C.
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon