Nixon halts public safety radio plan, some in area disappointed

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A more than $80 million project to improve the radio system used by Missouri police, firefighters and other emergency responders has been put on hold by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The contract had been awarded to Motorola Inc. shortly before Gov. Matt Blunt left office Jan. 12. But Nixon's administration quickly put it on hold, leading to the resignation of the project manager and prompting Blunt's former public safety director to raise concerns.

"It's somewhat disappointing," said Cape Girardeau assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider.

Though the decision does not have a direct effect on day-to-day communication operations locally, Hasheider said, the system would have established a much needed infrastructure for communications at the state level.

"It could have improved operations between state and local departments," he said.

Rural Missouri's need for such a system has been of concern for some time now, Hasheider said.

Nixon spokesman Jack Cardetti said Tuesday that the project is complex, lengthy and expensive and was halted as part of Nixon's review of all long-term state contacts. Of particular concern to Nixon is how the state would finance the new radio system, Cardetti said.

Southeast Missourian reporter Bridget DiCosmo contributed to this story.

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