CREATED Jan. 9, 2014
INDIO -- The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has installed a new state-of-the-art digital communication system at its Indio offices.
It just went online in the past week and helps eliminate dead spots where radios weren't working.
At the same time there's been a large number of reports of cell phones suddenly not receiving calls in that same area of the east valley.
Are the two things related?
You ask. We investigate.
We've heard from people living in Indio near the county courthouse and administration buildings on Highway 111.
They've been missing cell phone calls and having reception issues.
So we went on a mission today to find out what could be causing this reception dilemma.
Carlos Cruz is having communication challenges.
He says for a few weeks now, many phone calls have not been going through on his Verizon phone.
"Then they called me yesterday I believe, and it didn't ring, and I said hey somebody called me, no ringtone, so I'm assuming it's the tower," said Carlos.
"The tower being there, affect the phones, I would think so," said his brother, Ray.
There is a new tower for county emergency services, but County Supervisor John Benoit told us it isn't operational yet.
"It's highly unlikely that there's an interference problem from a standing piece of metal that's not energized in any way," said Supervisor Benoit.
Other residents in the area say their phones are working just fine.
Rodolfo Cervantes uses sprint.
"I haven't heard any just the only the only thing I would hear about with the cell phone issues would be when the fair comes and its hard for everyone here in this neighborhood to send messages," said Cervantes.
But Monica Ramirez has T-Mobile and she's had phone problems for about a month.
"Not with the calls but with the messages, they take very long to go through or sometimes they send me a message and it takes very long to get," said Ramirez.
Verizon officials told us all their cell towers are operational.
But Supervisor Benoit told us one of Verizon's cell towers had to be moved because the county building it stood on is being torn down.
"Apparently it may be this change in location that has affected some users, when you take it from the top of a building and put it on the ground, first of all you're going to have less of a pattern of radiation, and it's going to be different," said Supervisor Benoit.
Happily for nearby residents, this is temporary until the cell tower is moved to a new location.
So once again, the county says this is most likely caused because Verizon had to move one of their cell towers.
The old administration buildings are being torn down to make way for an expanded jail and new county offices.