Effingham County Board members would like a little more time to discuss a massive purchase of radio equipment for the sheriff's department — a purchase that would reportedly solve the department's lingering interoperability issues.
The board voted unanimously to table the proposed purchase until a special meeting set for 10 a.m. June 25 — the day before a Motorola deal is set to expire.
Chairman Jim Niemann said board members wanted further discussion before making a financial commitment of such magnitude.
"We're talking about a quarter-million dollars here," Niemann said.
Niemann said the option recommended by Motorola would cost the county $233,097, a savings of about $34,000 from regular pricing. In exchange, the county would receive mobile and portable radios, a consolette, installation and programming.
Sheriff's deputies have been complaining for several years that they cannot effectively communicate with officers from other agencies under the current system.
Niemann, a former Effingham city police officer, said a solution to the communication issue is crucial for officer safety — and because city and county police routinely cover for each other throughout the county.
"We've tried a number of fixes," the chairman said. "The bridge seemed to work the best, but that was still just a temporary fix."
Radio professionals developed a bridge between city and county frequencies earlier this year that was recently disconnected.
"We have a problem we have to fix," Niemann said.
The problem came about after Effingham city and Illinois State Police switched to Motorola's STARCOM system, while the county stuck with a 800 megahertz system.
Motorola representative Dave Lander told the board that the new system would be beneficial for the county.
"This will give the county a lot of options they don't have today," Lander said.
Niemann said, "If we are going to do this, we need to go all the way."