Joliet, county police mulls cell phone provider switch
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org July 9, 2012 10:08PM
Updated: August 11, 2012 6:12AM
Joliet and Will County police are thinking about walking away from Sprint.
In May, the village of Shorewood switched from Sprint cell phone service because of dropped calls and spotty connections.
At that time, the Joliet Police Department also complained about connection problems. Joliet Police Chief Michael Trafton said Monday that the city is now researching a new cell phone providers and may switch away from Sprint.
“We continue to have problems,” Trafton said. “We’re meeting with other vendors.”
Will County sheriff’s police also have been experiencing difficulties with dropped calls and no service in the past several months, said Nate Romeo, deputy chief for support services.
“They either can’t get through or they literally get disconnected,” he said of the sheriff’s deputies.
A meeting between county officials and Sprint is planned for Wednesday to talk about the service issues that are plaguing the 200 or so sheriff’s department personnel as well as other county departments, Romeo said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Shorewood, or Wilmington or Symerton and University Park, we’ve been experiencing problems,” Romeo said.
Sprint officials have told the county the problem would be fixed soon.
“It was going to get better in May, then the end of July, now we’re looking at August,” Romeo said. “ ... I haven’t seen any improvement actually. It’s gotten worse over the last several months. It’s horrible.”
Sprint is in the middle of a cell phone tower consolidation, Candace Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Overland Park, Kan.-based company said in early May. She could not be reached for comment Monday.
The company is consolidating many cell towers with 2G and 1X systems into one 3G network, she explained. Johnson likened the work to road repairs that cause problems during construction, but are worth it in the end.
Once the cell tower upgrades are completed, there will be 20 percent to 30 percent fewer dropped or blocked calls, Johnson said.
Romeo said it is imperative that sheriff’s police officers have cell phones that work when they are talking to people who are in life-threatening situations.
“If a phone call drops, it could put you in a very bad position,” he said.
If service doesn’t improve, Romeo said his department would “strongly consider” switching away from Sprint to a new cell phone service provider.