The Pinal County Sheriff's Office is awaiting word on whether it will get funding for portable radios to replace ones that get poor or no reception in remote areas.
Besides the safety concerns of unreliable radios, deputies could better fight the drug trade in the county and communicate with other agencies, according to the written proposals.
The county has applied for $280,524 in grants to pay for 81 radios.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said the radios in use now are cheap, construction grade. Deputies often have to hold the radios in the air to get reception in remote areas, something that deputies sarcastically refer to as the "Statue of Liberty pose," Babeu said.
"It's a big issue for us," Babeu said.
Holding the radio in the air could pose a safety problem if the deputy needs to draw his gun at the same time.
Deputies don't just communicate with each other. They also have to communicate with all of the other police and fire agencies in the county.
The new radios will allow for inter-operability, or the ability of first responders from different agencies to communicate with each other.
The lack of inter-operability has been a problem of law enforcement for years, and there has been a push to address it since Sept. 11, 2001.
"Being able to effectively communicate with portable radios between the various law enforcement agencies working in Pinal County is essential in the reduction of methamphetamine trafficking and the safety of our deputies and citizens," the grant states.
Tim Gaffney, the sheriff's office grant administrator, said the improved communications will also cut down on response times.
Babeu said his office will seek even more grants in an effort to equip every patrol deputy with a new radio by December 2009.