Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

June 18, 2013

Board holds off on radio issue

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."

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