Portage County Commissioners may decide soon on a plan to upgrade the Portage County Sheriff Department's problematic radio communications system.
Sheriff David Doak says the current VHF system works fine in smaller cities. but not countywide. "Part of the problem we've had is that the deputies are not able to communicate in certain areas of the county, and it's due to a technology issue with the current radio system we have. And we're trying to upgrade the radio system so that when they are out on a portable radio they're able to call in,"says Doak.
Doak tells AkronNewsNow the new 700 to 800 megahertz radio system would give the sheriff's department better radio coverage over a wider area.
Most of the municipal police departments in Portage County operate on an older VHF system, and Doak says while that may work for a smaller city, it doesn't meet the much larger coverage area needs of the Sheriff's Department.
Municipal police and fire chiefs across Portage County have been pushing commissioners to install an upgraded countywide VHF radio system as well, but Doak says that idea needs a lot of discussion, and paying for such an upgrade in a range of $2.5-million is also a problem.
Doak says the county is looking at a different way to afford a new MARCS digital radio system for the Sheriff's Department now. "We were looking at a lease program on this, where we would actually lease the system. And we'll also be looking at some grants to cover that expense," says David Doak.
Commissioners will now have to decide how to lease a new more advanced radio system for the sheriff, while at the same time pledging to address the radio problems of the city police and fire departments.
Doak says the new sheriff's radio system would include the ability to communicate with the city departments on VHF as the need arises.
Basically the Portage County Commissioners have agreed to support upgrades of both the sheriff's new system and an upgraded VHF system for the other municipal police and fire departments in the future.
The county is facing a December 31st deadline to make its emergency radio system comply with new narrow band requirements.