Thursday, June 6, 2013
County to get new radios
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County sheriff’s office is putting some money won in a tobacco litigation settlement to use.
Close to $200,000 of money that was awarded to the county as the result of the work of the late Jimmy Warren will be available to purchase radio system equipment, according to Maj. David Cook.
He said the county got grant money a few years ago to purchase 15 radios to talk on the statewide system. The units were spread among agencies locally, such as the sheriff’s office, emergency management and the fire departments. Those units have been up and running.
On the system, agencies can form talk groups. EMTs, firefighters and law enforcement groups – such as jailers, investigators and narcotics agents – can talk to each other.
DeSoto or Lafayette county sheriff’s deputies can talk to Marshall County deputies, for example.
All that is required to be on the state system is to purchase the equipment used for dispatch and the radios that go in vehicles. When the state radios are purchased for every vehicle, the old radios used to talk locally on the old system will remain in effect, Cook said. Each patrol car will have two radios.
“The governor is on board with it for officer safety,” Cook said.
“They will have the ability to communicate during a disaster and the system can handle many people talking at one time. The radios make it possible to communicate with many agencies at once.”
The sheriff’s office is looking at the cost of buying 51 radios and the current radios will be kept to communicate with agencies not yet on the state system. A lot of municipalities and agencies are looking at the feasibility of going on the state system, he said.
There is also an option to add GPS communication in the event that an officer leaves his vehicle. The GPS will help locate the officer if he or she gets in trouble and cannot communicate directly over radio.
Cook said of the current 18,000 radios on the state system, Marshall County has about 30. Cook said he has been in Jackson and been able to talk to a deputy in Mt. Pleasant using the state system.
For those who are accustomed to listening to law enforcement and other chatter on CB scanners, this system is encrypted and the old scanners will not pick up traffic, Cook said.
He said cell phones are obsolete in emergencies or disasters like Hurricane Katrina, when towers are often down or lines overloaded.
After the presentation, the board of supervisors approved a motion to acquire the system. All equipment is available on state contract, Cook said.
In other news, the sheriff’s department has applied for a COPs hiring program with the U.S. Department of Justice. The county’s match is 25 percent of the grant, which extends for three years to provide salary for extra officers at the sheriff’s office. The sheriff's department is required to retain the COPs officers for an additional year after the grant runs out. The board of supervisors approved the application.
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