The Hillsboro Police Department is switching from its conventional VHF radio system to a UHF or 800-megahertz system, which soon will be standard equipment for all Marion County emergency personnel.
Police Chief Dan Kinning said the new equipment arrived Friday, and included seven mobile units, 12 portables, plus accessories, chargers and batteries.
“We know we will have a big increase in the clarity from these radios,” he said. “And we will be able to talk to our officers no matter where they are in the state.”
Kinning said the cost of each mobile unit was $2,100, and the portables were $1,500 each, for a total cost of $35,287, which included chargers and other extras.
Another advantage of the 800 MHz system is that it’s more flexible, he said.
The system allows for different public safety agencies including fire, EMS, emergency management and others to communicate with state, county other local police and vice-versa.
Using the current system, law enforcement had an assigned frequency, limiting their flexibility.
“The system we have right now is shot, and I’m not sure how much longer it will last and how available replacement parts are,” Kinning said.
In addition to the clarity and flexibility of the 800 MHz radio, Kinning said Marion County won’t have to maintain a tower anymore.
The Kansas Department of Transportation, which has 800 MHz communication towers, will allow access for first responders and governmental users the ability to interact.
“Right now we aren’t useable, but we have sent KDOT a letter of intent (for access to the communication tower),” Kinning said. “This is going to be so much better (for our department).”
Currently, the Hillsboro Police Department has four full-time and four part-time officers, he said.
“Most of the officers will have their own handheld radio, but for those who work infrequently, we will have extra radios here for them to check out,” he said.
Kinning said one of the radios will be kept at Hillsboro City Hall for communication with police, and one will be in the weather station at the Scout House.