Oklahoma City has hundreds of police radios valued at more than $850,000 sitting in storage, state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said Tuesday.
Jones called the unused radios “a significant waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Jones' office uncovered the radios in the course of an audit begun last year.
The city requested the audit in response to a whistle-blower complaint by the police department's head of information technology.
Capt. Bradd Brown alleged money was misappropriated for personal gain by the manager of a project to upgrade public safety communications systems.
The auditor said his investigation found no evidence to support that claim.
However, auditors found instances where the public safety communications project could have benefited from “greater safeguards and oversight.”
The radios, designed to transmit data to and from mobile computers in police cars, were purchased for about $1,000 each in 2006.
Managers found they unexpectedly bogged down communications on voice and data systems, said M.T. Berry, an assistant city manager, in an interview Tuesday.
As a result, responses to such things as routine records checks were slow, said Berry, who is a former Oklahoma City police chief. He said it was possible that officers in trouble would be unable to call for help.
The auditor's report said Oklahoma City purchased about 876 radios, a model called M/A Com 500M, in 2006 for police and fire vehicles.
The cost was $905,784.
According to the audit report, the Public Safety Capital Projects office “voiced general concerns about the radios' capabilities” to an internal oversight panel as early as July 2006.
Nonetheless, the city continued buying radios through November.
Auditors said Kerry Wagnon, public safety program manager, pointed out to them that the city had ordered the radios.