Byram police radio controversy - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Byram police radio controversy

By Marsha Thompson - bio | email

BYRAM, MS (WLBT) - The Byram police department is having to rely on borrowed two way radios to communicate with each other. Portable radios are a necessary tool for first responders and crime fighting efforts.

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors did not approved the Police Chief's request for 60 new radios. So we decided to take a look at how those elected officials are handling your taxpayer dollars.

At issue is the brand Motorola or E.F. Johnson. The price tag is over 232-thousand dollars. The Chief told me Thursday, the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission has authorized spending the money for Motorola units. But the county-hired consultant is recommending E.F. Johnson radios. That will taxpayers 10 thousand dollars more. As it turns out the consultant, Nathan Hargrove happens to sell E.F. Johnson mobile police radios himself.

We talked with Byram's new Chief Luke Thompson Thursday. Here is part of that conversation. "The consultant is pushing E.F. Johnson. The more expensive radio? Yes. Does the consultant sell these radios? Yes, he does. He is the one that prepared the E.F. Johnson quote. That was 10 thousand dollars more. And he's a county supervisor consultant pushing his own brand?" yes."

The department now relies on four radio's borrowed from the Hinds County Emergency Operations Center. They hope to beef up the force to 25 officers by June first. That's the date they need the new radio's in their possession.

Board President George Smith said late today he does not view the matter as a conflict of interest.

Copyright 2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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