It was supposed to bring Pennsylvania’s statewide police radio communications into the 21st century. Instead, the system dubbed OpenSky left state police radio communications disrupted — if not occasionally disconnected.

Now years after its scheduled implementation, at a cost four times its original estimate, answers are owed about this $800 million boondoggle.

An audit is a starting point in determining how a radio system, authorized in 1996 at a cost of $179 million, devolved into a techno-morass that actually impaired state police communications in major investigations — most notably, during the manhunt for Eric Frein, who killed a trooper during a 2014 ambush outside a state police barracks in the Poconos.

In recent Senate testimony, state police Maj. Diane Stackhouse said OpenSky was “worthless during the Frein manhunt.” The proprietary system so badly inhibited communications with local and federal authorities that another system was brought in.

And while the replacement P25 radio system is now being used in four Pennsylvania counties, with four more to be added by June, there remains the matter of clearing the cloud cover that looms over OpenSky. At least one state senator has called for a criminal investigation, which the state Attorney General’s Office at this point would not confirm or deny.

Ultimately what’s needed, and long overdue, is a refund.

— The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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