News

Adams County digital emergency radio system goes live

Written by Lillian Reed, The Evening Sun | Oct 21, 2015 3:30 PM
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McSherrystown Police Department's Chief of Police Mike Woods, left, and Sgt. Ralph Griffiths, with Latimore Township Police Department, pose for a group photo on Tuesday at the Adams County Emergency Services Center during a media day for the new Adams County 911 Digital Emergency Radio System. Using the new portable radio units for the first time on Tuesday, Chief Woods said he was able to clearly communicate with Sgt. Griffiths. Tuesday was the first day a portion of the new system was used by law enforcement. (Shane Dunlap - The Evening Sun)

(McSherrystown) -- McSherrystown's chief of police began his Tuesday to sound of his brand new radio chirping with the crystal clear voice of an officer miles away in Latimore Township.

Back in Chief Michael Wood's police car, the old radio system wheezed through the morning with fuzzy voices and muffled information.

The switch to a new radio system has been much overdue, Woods said.

Adams County's new digital public safety communication system went live at about 5 a.m. Tuesday for six municipal police departments: McSherrystown, Gettysburg, Carroll Valley and Littlestown boroughs and Latimore and Cumberland townships.

The $25.5 million new system will run parallel to the old system until officials are confident that it can stand alone, said John Eline, director of Adams County Emergency Services.

County officials who worked on the project including members of the radio oversight committee and Adams County commissioners gathered at the Emergency Center to celebrate the milestone in a project that has spanned more than three years.

Commissioner Randy Phiel recalled back to the commitment to fund the expansive new system, which is the first update to the county's emergency communications since 1979.

"In one way it was an anguishing decision because we knew it meant potentially raising taxes," Phiel said. "In the end we made the right decision."

The decision was motivated by antiquated equipment that had technicians ordering necessary parts off eBay because they were no longer being manufactured, Eline said. "There were times where we were upstairs and literally praying that the system wouldn't fail," he said.

The new system, which was designed and installed by Motorolla, has a number of modern features such as GPS navigation and interoperability with neighboring counties, Eline said.

The latter is what Woods is most excited to use since he works near several York County municipalities, he said.

Prior to the new system, Hanover Borough and Penn Township officers had to reach out to their dispatcher who then asked the Adams County dispatcher to relay to Woods a communication about a police incident.

Should there be a bank robbery in Hanover with a suspect fleeing into Adams County, the chain of calls slowed police from responding properly, Woods said.

"You're talking about several minutes but to us that makes all the difference," he said.

With the new system, this problem no longer exists, Eline said.

The new radios will be introduced incrementally to more police and fire departments and emergency medical services in the weeks to come, he said.

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Rusty Himelwright, a telecomm specialist with public safety consulting firm L. R. Kimball discusses the new Adams County 911 Digital Emergency Radio System on Tuesday at the Adams County Emergency Services Center. The new system is a digital 800MHz trunked radio system that will allow more reliable and clearer communications between first responders and law enforcement officials in Adams County. It took about four years for the county to plan and install the new system. (Shane Dunlap - The Evening Sun)


This article comes to us through a partnership between the Evening Sun and WITF. 

Published in Adams County, News

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