Radio Dead Zones: A Public Safety Hazard?

Communication Dead Zones for SBSO

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A report recently published by the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury reveals areas of the county are so remote, deputies with the Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Office have trouble communicating by radio. 

The report claims "dead spots" in radio communication have prevented calls for backup and created dangerous situations for deputies.

There are plans to build several new radio communication towers across the county. The grand jury also recommends the Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Office switch to a newer, digital communication system. 

Areas in both northern and southern Santa Barbara County are mentioned in the report, including the Cuyama Valley and nearby the small town of Casmalia. 

"We are a small community, and we end up helping each other," says Robin Gorley, the co-owner of the Casmalia Corner Market, the only such store in the town of 200. "We have no cell phone service. You can text, but you can't talk. If we needed somebody in a hurry, it would take us a while just to even get a response." The town is more than 15 minutes from the closest fire station in Orcutt. 

Gorley says she and others who live in town have to rely on landlines to contact emergency services. She says several times crews have asked to use their landlines when cell and radio communication is down. She welcomes the report that $900,000 is being allocated by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to improve the radio communications network, which includes the building of new towers. 

The grand jury also recommends the Sheriffs Office switches to a newer, more effective radio communication system. It is already being used by the Santa Maria Police Department. 

To read the full Grand Jury report, click here.

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