Bill to fix Nevada Highway Patrol radio blunder headed to governor

| 6/6/2003

A bill authorizing $16.5 million in state spending to help fix a multimillion-dollar goof in building a Nevada Highway Patrol communications system has been sent to the governor.

SB499 appropriates most of the money from the state’s highway fund and $1.8 million from the general fund, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The lawmakers’ Interim Finance Committee would have final say on how the money is spent.

The bill was introduced and approved in the last week of the legislative session after lawmakers were told the state highway patrol could face hefty Federal Communications Commission fines for operating a communications system without proper licenses for three years.

The patrol spent $14 million on a contract with Motorola to build the computer radio system to link troopers with each other, the dispatch center and other law enforcement agencies, the newspaper reported. It was activated in 2000.

However, no one ever applied to the FCC for licenses for the frequencies, and the FCC is asking the patrol to get off those frequencies by June 9.

The error will force the patrol to switch to an old communications system, and could mean the agency will have to build a system as fast and as capable as the one it would have to dismantle.