It's radio-free NYPD when it comes to the subways. In a totally reassuring article about the state of NYPD security, technology, and how money is spent, the NY Times reports that police refuse to use a new $140 million radio system in the subways because it doesn't work very well. The MTA put a new radio system in because police stationed underground were never able to communicate with police aboveground. Truckloads of money later, there is a new radio system, but there's so much interference, "it sounds as if you're talking through a glass of water," according to a NYC Transit engineer.

The best quote of the article, though, is from this anonymous transit police officer:

“We have no communication with the outside. Something can be happening to the street cops right upstairs and we don’t even know.” He said fleeing suspects knew they could take advantage of the communication gap by ducking into the subway. “This is no secret. The criminals know how it works.”

Well, if they didn't before, the NY Times-reading ones sure do now.

What's causing all the interference, in spite of the systems installed (here's a Times graphic) are the subway entrances, street gratings, and other vents between the street and the subway stations underground. The system can be fixed, but another $70 million will have to be spent. According to the article, once the NYPD accepts the radio system, they'll have to share the cost. Let's see, going over budget by $70 million, half of which will be paid by the NYPD... hmm, the starting salary for a NYPD recruit will probably still be $25,000!

Photograph of the police at Union Square station during Improv Everywhere's No Pants 2K6 by icopythat on Flickr