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City OKs radio upgrade

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 12:19 AM

Lebanon City Council gave final approval Thursday for a major upgrade to the city’s radio communications system.

Council approved the emergency purchase of more than $436,000-worth of new radios and related equipment and dispatch equipment to address radio “dead spots” within the city.

“There are certain parts of town where we know we have issues with any time,” said Chief Scott Bowen. 

And when there’s inclement weather, those issues often extend to other areas, making radios unreliable. 

“There have been times when [officers] have tried to get back to dispatch and couldn’t,” said Chief Scott Bowen. “Fortunately not in an emergency situation, but could that happen? Any minute. Absolutely.”

He said the police department and fire department have been collaborating in recent months to find the best solution.

“This is just a culmination of three or four months of hard work by a couple guys at the fire department and one of my guys,” said Bowen.

He said they researched the various technologies available, testing them out to see what would work.

Because council approved the purchase as an emergency measure, they can now expedite the purchase process.

“We sent in the paperwork [Wednesday] to the federal government to try to get our [radio] license, and we’re thinking it’ll be probably six to eight week to get everything in and installed,” said Bowen. “It’ll be ordered very quickly.”

After the equipment is installed, the vendor will train members of the fire and police department in its use. 

“This technology is just so much more advanced [than the existing radios],” said Bowen.

One of the features it offers is GPS capability. With that, dispatch will be able to pinpoint officers’ locations by locating the walkie-talkies they carry on them.

Additionally, because the vendor the city is buying the equipment from is located in the Middle Tennessee area, they can respond quickly if there are any service issues with the equipment.

The cost of the purchase will be split among varying funds in the city, with more than $225,000 coming from the Drug Fund.

In other business, council approved second readings of the following items:

• A line item transfer for the sanitation department for overtime;

• Bids for radios and accessories for the street, sanitation and public works departments;

• Bids for one storage building for Don Fox Park;

• Bids for the T-Hangar Row E project at Lebanon Municipal Airport;

• Bids for propane and electric heaters for the water plant;

• Bids for one compressed natural gas refuse truck for the sanitation department.

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