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Eunice having issues with radio system - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Eunice having issues with radio system

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First responders in Eunice say their radio system isn't working properly, and when seconds matter most, they say any loss of communication can be the difference between life and death. 

Eunice is on the outer fringes of three radio towers, and the city itself sits in a topographic bowl, creating problems for dispatchers. 

Eunice Police Chief Randy Fontenot says it's a problem. 

"The state's reviewed the maps and how it's working and you can see where Eunice is basically in a dead zone," Fontenot says. "A recent hostage situation in Eunice that escalated into a shootout, and put one officer in danger, could've resulted differently had the radio system been working better." 

It's not just officers who are affected, he added. 

"We've got officers lives in danger, and it's not just officers, but that radio communication could also mean the life of anybody out there in the city," Fontenot said. "One life lost just because of a radio tower is just not worth it."

Deputy Chief Richard Daigle was pursuing a hostage suspect when the suspect drove toward a staging area, but because the radio system wasn't working, officers didn't hear Daigle's warning to them. Officers shot the suspect - putting Daigle in the crossfire. 

"Pretty much helpless, that's (gestures to his radio) is pretty much our lifeline between dispatch and all the other officers," Daigle says. "It was bad. They had probably about seven shots fired."

The state has approved a new radio tower for Eunice, but there's no funding for it yet. The city is in talks with a company that is offering to help build the tower. 

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