Dallas must spend $100 million to replace its two-way radio system by 2013, city leaders learned this week.
The city's analog radios require too much bandwidth, and the federal government is requiring a switch to a more modern digital radio system.
Dallas' radio system provides communication for police, fire, water utilities, street repair, sanitation and all other city services.
The current analog system includes 11,000 radios, 700 receivers, 400 antennas, 250 transmitters and 23 towers. Much of the old equipment must be replaced.
The city plans to buy 2,000 new radios in time for the Super Bowl in February. The radios would permit Dallas police and firefighters to communicate directly with personnel from other cities for the first time.
Dallas Police Association President Glenn White said it is something officers have wanted for years.
"When we're involved in a pursuit, that would be a very, very important thing to have," he said.
But White said he is concerned that the switch to digital radios will not go smoothly after glitches with a recent change to squad car computers.
"The tremendous amount of infrastructure and replacement of equipment that this is going to involve with a deadline of 2013 -- (I'm) very skeptical," he said. "I'm not sure the city of Dallas is going to meet that deadline."
The City Council will be asked next week to spend $8 million from federal grant money to buy the first 2,000 radios.
City officials say plans to pay for the rest of the upgrades presented in a briefing to the Public Safety Committee on Monday are being further refined.
Voters may be asked to approve borrowing for the money in a 2012 bond issue.
"It is one of the items that's been waiting to find its way on our plate," Caraway said. "It has arrived, and now we have a responsibility to do something about it."