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Commissioners, sheriff looking for more effective countywide radio system PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:04 AM

By JIM LANGHAM • Progress Feature Writer

PAULDING – Paulding County commissioners and Sheriff Jason Landers are currently working aggressively to secure a more effective radio communication system for law enforcement officials in the county.

Commissioner Fred Pieper said that the county board is deeply concerned about glaring deficiencies in communicating from one side of the county to the other.

“There are areas of the county where first responders can’t reach dispatchers,” said Pieper. “There might be a domestic dispute in on the southeast side of the county. The officer gets on his walky talky and can’t reach dispatch. When he gets inside, he can’t communicate.”

Currently, said Pieper, there are a couple of options available, but neither are considered fully dependable. One is to borrow one of the frequencies off the EMA tower and use them, but that can often cause conflict with users in Van Wert County.

“We can go through the FCC, but that system and the EMA system are like two generations old now,” said Pieper.

Both the commissioners and sheriff agree that the best solution these days is what is known as Multi Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS).

That radio system, said Pieper, is associated with Motorola and recently went through a major upgrade in the latest and greatest technology.

“You can talk to any other agency in the state of Ohio,” said Pieper. “You can communicate with ODOT, sheriff, EMA or whoever is needed.”

At first, county officials were looking at the cost of purchasing radios for countywide officials. However, commissioners currently are looking into purchasing 26 portables and 16 mobiles at a cost of $4,000 to $6,000 apiece, depending on the complexity of their functions.

The total cost for these 42 radios could be between $168,000 to $252,000.

“My biggest concern is officer safety,” said Landers. “Right now the conventional system working on a daily basis is the best that we have. The trunking system at the fairgrounds is not a good system.

“We are the only county in the entire state besides Brown County that has this system,” added the sheriff.

Cost for monthly maintenance of radios is $20 per radio per month. For 42 radios, that would mean $840 per month in fees, or $10,080 annually.

“I have been to Columbus twice to try to address this issue,” said Pieper. “We are trying to secure grant money. I have spoken to state legislators and senators. I have spoken with the governor’s office and the chairman of committees that work with funding issues.”

Pieper said that Motorola is also attempting to secure funding to assist with the radios.

“There are many possibilities developing,” added Pieper. “The governor has ordered legislators to get funding for user fees throughout the state.”