Byram bypasses Hinds Supervisors, authorizes Motorola purchase - - Jackson, MS

Byram bypasses Hinds Supervisors, authorizes Motorola purchase

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BYRAM, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Byram Alderman Richard White says Police Chief Luke Thompson is getting the Motorola radios he wanted all along. "We started this process last year. We've done everything as far as paperwork," White says. "I think the leadership of Hinds County has let Hinds County down and Byram down."

In early March, the Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of radios through E-911 funds. "I think they've been purchased, but we're not sure. We don't communicate with Hinds County," White says.

The purchase process has a long history. In February 2009, Hinds filed suit against Motorola, alleging Motorola sold radio services and equipment to the county and then, to make a larger profit, allowed third parties access to Hinds County's systems.

Helping to author the audit report that led to the lawsuit? Stacey Stowers, a former Motorola employee, and Nathan Hargrove, a former employee of Brown Communications, which is a subcontractor of Motorola.

Stowers later formed Airwave LLC, which has numerous contracts with Hinds County, one of which pays him more than $700,000 a year to service the radio system. Nathan Hargrove shares office space in Jackson with Stowers, and Hargrove owns Northstar Wireless, which subcontracts with Airwave to work on the system.

Hargrove is also a paid consultant to Hinds County.

Back in March of this year, the Wireless Communications Commission approved the purchase of Motorola radios for Byram. But Hargrove recommended the purchase of E.F. Johnson radios, which he was selling. At the time, Motorola's quote came in lower.

It's believed the county went ahead and purchased the E.F. Johnson radios out of E-911 funds that had been allocated. If so, Byram may have to temporarily pay for the Motorolas out of pocket.

According to the Clarion Ledger, Hargrove told supervisors Byram's police chief is requesting changes that are holding up the installation of the E.F. Johnson radios.

The city says it's the other way around. "They're holding us up," White says. 

District 5 Supervisor George Smith is the President of the Board of Supervisors. He says the Motorola radios were never cheaper, and the E.F. Johnson radios were delivered within four days. He says installment and warranty were included in the price, and the City of Byram is trying to intimidate the Board by authorizing the Motorola purchase.

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. on Monday.

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