Steve Reinke, 62, will step down as head of Deschutes County 911 in the next few weeks. He’s been on the job nearly four years, a relatively long time at the head of an agency that went through 17 directors in its previous 20 years. He plans to retire.
While he’s leaving an agency that’s made gains under his direction, he also bears critical responsibility for the current problems a new countywide radio system is having. He does anguish over the problems, and that makes sense; he is the director of the agency in charge.
County commissioners must not use Reinke’s departure as a reason to wrap things up and put the current mess behind them. Instead, they owe it to taxpayers to find out what went wrong and why. They should consider hiring a consultant to investigate, as Reinke proposed.
Reinke came to Deschutes County 911 in September 2014. Thanks in no small part to his efforts, voters in the county approved stable funding for the district in May 2016.
He oversaw the purchase and installation of a new, digital radio system that is supposed to serve police, fire and a variety of other agencies. Unfortunately, the system has so far failed to provide the improved communications that were promised.
The county has spent millions on a system that so far has failed to meet expectations. Emergency service personnel, taxpayers — pretty much everyone in the county — deserve to know why.