Bexar County ESD chiefs urge commissioners to pass over radios sold by scandal-linked communications company

ESD 7 chief says request to acquire Motorola instead of Dailey and Wells-supplied Harris radios is about safety, not scandal

SAN ANTONIO – Just days after news broke of a San Antonio communications company's link to a federal bribery investigation, the chiefs of every Bexar County Emergency Services district are urging the commissioners court to pass over acquiring the company's fire radios.

Dailey and Wells Communications has a $108 million deal with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and CPS Energy to replace a public safety radio system. The company was also linked to a bribery investigation in which the former San Angelo police chief was charged on Friday.

The former chief was accused of funneling $130,000 to himself through checks made out to his band, “Funky Munky.”

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His band was provided the money in exchange for him pushing city officials to twice award its public-safety radio system to a company named in the indictment as “Vendor 1,” according to the Department of Justice.

Local media outlet San Angelo LIVE! identified “Vendor 1” as Dailey and Wells Communications based off of its previous reporting on the contracts and the dates they were awarded.

Dailey and Wells sells Harris brand radios, but the chiefs say they want their firefighters relying on a different brand when they go into burning buildings.

In a letter dated Jan. 21, just a few days after news broke of Dailey and Wells’s link to the scandal, the chiefs urged Bexar County commissioners to choose their preferred brand of fire radio, Motorola, instead of Harris.

“On behalf of every Bexar County Emergency Service (sic) District, including our personnel and the citizens we are responsible for protecting, we respectfully request that Bexar County choose Motorola as the supplier and servicer of portable fire safety radios,” the chiefs write in their letter.

Despite the timing of their request, ESD 7 Chief Kevin Clarkson said the letter had been in the works for months as the chiefs believed the Motorola was a more rugged radio, and the issue had been “something of contention from the moment the contract was awarded” in Feb. 2018.

“It’s a matter of it’s time to make that decision and we want to make sure that the judge and the county commissioners have our input on what we think that decision should be,” Clarkson said.

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A City of San Antonio spokesman said the ESDs are able to use other fire radios besides the Harris ones. They just need to work on the new P25 system.

To the chiefs, it’s a clear-cut decision.

“It’s about the safety of our firefighters and of our citizens just making the right choice,” Clarkson said.

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