Government

More News | | | Editor

Columbia County commissioners approve $7 million bid for new sheriff's office radio system

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 8:11 PM
Last updated 8:50 PM
  • Follow Government

Columbia County commissioners accepted a nearly $7 million bid Tuesday to purchase a new radio system for the sheriff’s office.

The 800 megahertz trunked radio system from Motorola greatly improves the reception range for deputies, Sheriff Clay Whittle said during the commission meeting.

Often, Whittle said, deputies must strike a “Statue of Liberty” pose – holding their radios over the heads while talking into lapel microphones – to get reception. With the new radio system, he said deputies will get a clear signal in 98 percent of the county.

The new system will be tied into the county’s broadband network, which is under construction and will include several new radio towers. Thanks to the broadband infrastructure, Whittle said the cost for the system was considerably less.

“If we didn’t have this (broadband network), we’d probably be looking at $10 million ... to make this system come together,” he said.

To purchase the system, commissioners agreed to make an initial down payment of $3.5 million from the 911 fund balance.

Such expenditures from the 911 reserves once were illegal, but new legislation signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in May during a Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting allows for the purchase of upgrades to emergency communications equipment.

The balance of the purchase will be paid during the next decade at a 3.19 percent interest rate.

Other county agencies also can use the system in return for sharing in the maintenance costs. For the first time, Whittle said, such agencies as the sheriff’s office, Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue, county Emergency and Operations and others will be able to communicate via radio.

Whittle said the radio system might be ready for use by October.

Comments (17) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/21/12 - 09:18 pm
0
0
I'm unclear about something.

I'm unclear about something. Whittle said, "The new system will be tied into the county’s broadband network, which is under construction and will include several new radio towers. Thanks to the broadband infrastructure, Whittle said the cost for the system was considerably less."

Does that mean using the towers will help? It doesn't have anything to do with the cable being laid. Does it? Could we have simply built towers?

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 02/22/12 - 12:52 am
1
0
Excellent Public Safety

Excellent Public Safety Decision by the county. Deputies need great communications and so do citizens as this can be a matter of life or death. Motorola is by far the best choice and this type of system will greatly improve communications for the deputies as well as allow for better communications with other agencies. Since the money is coming from 9-1-1 sucharges on phone bills and cell phones, it will not effect local taxes although it will greatly improve local service.

wribbs
521
Points
wribbs 02/22/12 - 06:06 am
0
0
@Riverman1. I suspect they

@Riverman1. I suspect they are using the existing broadband network to transport voice traffic from the tower that receives the traffic to all the other towers. If an officer makes a call in one part of the county, his voice is sent to all the other towers so the other officers can hear him no matter where they are. If there was no existing broadband network, they would had to have built one just for this system and include the entire cost in the project. Fiber and microwave networks can get very expensive.

Depending on how they are accounting for it, they only have to include a portion of the broadband network in the cost of the radio system.

justputtin
1527
Points
justputtin 02/22/12 - 06:18 am
1
0
Good stuff. Keep our

Good stuff. Keep our sherriffs dept equipped to do their job. It's not like spending FIVE MILLION turning a field that was used for all kinds of outdoor activities into a park that's used for the same with an amphitheater 500 yds from ANOTHER amphitheater with a much nicer seating setup. Sorry for the run on sentence but the actions of a few make these necessary. I should misspell some words as well.

my.voice
5180
Points
my.voice 02/22/12 - 07:57 am
1
0
Any money spent on law

Any money spent on law enforcement is a good investment. Sheriff Whittle is quality folk and we are fortunate to have him.

ripjones256
-1
Points
ripjones256 02/22/12 - 08:16 am
0
0
@Riverman - They will use the
Unpublished

@Riverman - They will use the broadband fiber-optic cable system to interconnect the towers to each other. Guess that means I'll have to buy a new radio.

justputtin
1527
Points
justputtin 02/22/12 - 08:57 am
1
0
Agree 100% my.voice.

Agree 100% my.voice.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 10:06 am
0
0
Wribbs, I'm by no means an

Wribbs, I'm by no means an expert on this matter and am not trying to act smart, but doesn't code division multiple access (CDMA) eliminate the need for the cable if improved radio communications are our goal? Can't one tower transmit to another, etc.? Or if cable is necessary for the operation could not existing private company cables have been used?

Now, don't get me wrong, I agree better communications are great, but I'm asking if the cable is a necessary factor. If it is, then it gives those who got the county into this government laid cable more justification.

Mwgordon
0
Points
Mwgordon 02/22/12 - 10:28 am
1
0
Riverman1, (CDMA) does not

Riverman1, (CDMA) does not eliminate hard line connections into a tower site. (CDMA) is just a signalling format used by a radio to talk to the tower. The tower can talk to each other in two ways, land line (i.e. fiber, copper..) or microwave links. If the county were to purchase a microwave system between the towers it would have added a significant amount to the cost. Now if they were to use leased T1 lines to the towers, you are talking roughly 14 T1 connections at around 1500.00 per connection per month. I say 14 connections because the county network is providing redundant connections to each site. So if we compare apples to apples the new county network infrastructure is saving the county just in tower links $21k a month or $252k a year. So yes, the cable/ fiber is neccessary for the county to have.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 10:48 am
0
0
MWGordon, that's good info.

MWGordon, that's good info. Perhaps the whole county highspeed cable project should be looked at again with considerations given to the money saved by county agencies using the same towers. Or possibly consider if there would have been cheaper ways using existing private towers and cable? I don't know, I'm just asking since we are now saying the government paying for the cable and towers is actually saving us money. If that's the case, kudos to all involved.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 11:09 am
0
0
What gets me is AFTER it

What gets me is AFTER it comes out that the state is going to protect private companies from government competition with cable and AFTER Columbia County has spent millions, now we are finding ways to say it's all justified. Why didn't we mention these advantages at first?

Mwgordon
0
Points
Mwgordon 02/22/12 - 12:37 pm
1
0
The problem with counties

The problem with counties using existing cable infrastructure is security. With the new regulations imposed by the federal government in regards to information security, this limits the use of public infrastructure. There is no competition being hurt by this network. This is for county use, not for the use of its citizens. Therefore the county is not competiting, they are just eliminating reoccuring monthly costs of leased lines. I for one am glad to see counties putting in there own network infrastructure. Having dealt with some of the cable companies and there poor response times and union regulations which limits what they can do. I fully understand the importance of being self maintianed. In the world of information that we are in, it is important to keep connections up and running. I dont want to see an officer of the law pull over a vehicle with a suspect that is known to be armed, but the officer cant run the tags to find this out because a line is down or there was a company wide outage.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 12:47 pm
0
0
This security issue is

This security issue is interesting. I didn't realize private cable lends itself to transmissions being compromised. I figured security is provided in software or some other way. So bank transactions and other things people do on the internet now with existing cable lines can be compromised because of the cable itself? Are banks and other companies going to start building their own cable lines to keep them secure?

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 01:02 pm
0
0
"Having dealt with some of

"Having dealt with some of the cable companies and there poor response times and union regulations which limits what they can do."

Are local cable companies unionized?

Mwgordon
0
Points
Mwgordon 02/22/12 - 01:09 pm
0
0
ATT or Maa Bell is. This

ATT or Maa Bell is. This would be the cable or T1 source that the county would have to use. Cable companies like charter or comcast can not be used for what Columbia county needs. They are strictly cable TV and internet. They do not have the ability to connect a county wide network.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 01:12 pm
0
0
Ah, okay, so ATT locally is

Ah, okay, so ATT locally is unionized? I didn't know that. But if we used existing phone lines that would compromise security? If someone does online banking using dial up, I guess that's pretty dangerous?

Mwgordon
0
Points
Mwgordon 02/22/12 - 02:23 pm
0
0
Using online banking and

Using online banking and using the FBI network to do criminal background checks is two different things. What criminal really cares what someone using dail up has in there bank? But how about getting into the FBI criminal database?

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 02/22/12 - 03:56 pm
0
1
Okay, so does the FBI build

Okay, so does the FBI build their own towers and what have you when they deal on the internet, use radio or simply email confidential info? I mean it could be you are absolutely right and we are on the cutting edge for security with having our own towers and linking cables for our county.

I guess my point is if we were going to build a secure system and this was an issue, should we have discussed possible alternatives before we spent the $16 million for the government paid for high speed cable?

There are many ways we could make money with those towers and have local government use them, but I'm not sure that's cost effective as it has mistakenly been presented.

Now if you want to admit the government funded high speed cable construction is a monumental mistake and we are going to do all we can to make the best of a bad situation, I'm with you.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Christmas Eve rains to dry up

If Wednesday seemed particularly wet and dreary, you would be right. The day broke the record for the wettest Christmas Eve that Augusta has ever had.
Search Augusta jobs